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by Maddy Hunter
Pocket Books, February 2003
272 pages
ISBN: 0743458117

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Emily Andrew is accompanying her grandmother, Marion Sippel, on a seniors' tour of Switzerland. Nana won the lottery on the day an ice shanty fell on grandpa in Brainerd, Minnesota. She moved to Iowa to be near her family,

The tour doesn't start out too well. After a rather cramped flight, the tour guide gets the rooms mixed up, and Emily and Marion end up in a rather small (typically European) room with a not very satisfactory en-suite bathroom. After a description of some of the people on the tour, all of whom seem to have known each other all their lives, we learn that another 25 people "from the East" are also part of the group. Shirley Agnowski, from Rhode Island, seems to fascinate the women. Her job is to name colors for Revlon.

In the middle of the night Emily hears a scream from the room next door. Running over there, she finds Andy Simon dead in Shirley's room. Andy was a randy old goat, but his death leaves the Iowa group without a leader, so Emily, the youngest person on the tour, volunteers for the job, which pays her $3000.

I may be humor-impaired, but I don't think making fun of other styles of civilization or of ignorant or naive people is funny. Every time someone asks the local guide a question, the answer is: "Ve vill learn that tomorrow" or "That is not on this tour, do not ask that question" or sharp nasty retorts like that.

I was willing to suspend my disbelief at a 21-year-old naive young woman from small-town Iowa taking over the tour group, but that, added to the Swiss-bashing and the ridiculous behavior of the Iowans, made me feel this was a satire on the traditional mystery. Nevertheless, it was been nominated for an Agatha for best first novel of 2003.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, March 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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