Lucy and a group of her friends are taking a vacation, one of those university packaged tours. This one's in London, and Lucy, Sue, and Pam are eager to sample English tea -- the meal with all its touches of scones, jams, cream, and of course tea itself -- but you know how travel is, don't you? Things happen. And around Lucy, death happens. Not that it's her fault, of course. And this particular death, which threatens to strand them on the airplane instead of in the Tower of London, is one of those awful health accidents that nobody could have predicted: an allergy reaction suffered by their tour leader, so severe that even the doctor on the plane can't reverse it in time.
Soon even the British inspector agrees with that assessment:
The inspector was now standing at the front of the cabin, addressing the group. "Thank you all for your cooperation. You're free to go, and I hope there will be no further unpleasantness to spoil your visit to the UK."Lucy's resolve is destined to crumble, though -- there are some really strange people on this tour, including a group of students whose connections eventually reveal themselves as more than weird. And, well, scary things keep happening. Plus teatime keeps eluding her, at least the teatime she's so looked forward to.
They were starting to stand up when a rosy-cheeked man with slicked back hair suddenly appeared. "I'm Reg Wilson from British Airways, and I, too, want to thank you for your cooperation. Furthermore, I have arranged transport for your group to your hotel. Now, if you will gather up your things, I will escort you to immigration and on to the baggage area."
Pam was bouncing on the balls of her feet, itching to go. "Let's get this show on the road," she said.
Lucy smiled, resolving not to let Temple's death ruin her vacation. After all, she hadn't really known the man. And she was finally here in England. "Tallyho," she said.
It's fascinating to watch author Leslie Meier take the journalist and amateur sleuth out of her home turf and away from the family that plays such a strong role in earlier Lucy Stone mysteries, out into a place where recognition springs from TV dramas and books, and help comes with a different accent and a skeptical raised eyebrow. I missed the Maine connections -- but I enjoyed seeing Lucy's dawning realization of what was going on around her. And the twist of the book's ending was a delicious surprise.
Make room in the beach tote for this traditional mystery: a pleasant summer read, and a clever diversion for the series.