Murder on the Orient Expresso

(Maggy Thorsen, #8)

It’s November and Maggy Thorsen, co-owner of the Wisconsin gourmet coffeehouse, Uncommon Grounds, is in South Florida at an annual crime-writers’ conference with her beau, local sheriff Jake Pavlik, who is due to speak as a ‘forensics expert’.

Maggy’s pledge to behave solely as a tourist becomes trickier than she anticipated when the conference’s opening night event turns out to be a re-enactment of Agatha Christie’s classic, Murder on the Orient Express. As Maggy and Jake reluctantly set off on the night train to the Everglades to solve the ‘crime’, it’s clear that, as in the original novel, nothing is quite what it seems. And amidst rumours of careers taken, manuscripts stolen and vows broken, it seems that in the Everglades – as in life – the predator all too often becomes the prey.

Since I ended up loving this, sorry to say I didn't start with the beginning of the series and instead jumped in with book eight. There's obviously been some kind of romantic back story I missed out on with it's development; still, it was a smooth enough transition and it's not a series you have to read prior books to for it to work.

Maggy Thorsen and her boyfriend Jake Pavlik have gone to Florida for the sheriff to speak at a writer's conference. That conference is opening it's weekend by having the guests on a train as part of a writer's getaway weekend. The train is re-enacting Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Things, of course, don't always go smoothly.

As far as mysteries go, it's a great one. There's plenty of suspects all crammed in together in tight quarters, so of course any of them could have been the murderer. Maggy doesn't know anyone so she is learning motive and backstory as the story progresses. I wasn't sure until the buildup who the victim would even be, as the author doesn't dive immediately into the killing of the person.

The interactions with each of the characters and how they tie together is probably the best part of the book. Loved it.

The ending is a nice twist on who it was - I started suspecting the person by playing the "murder mystery solving rule", but I wasn't sure and it wasn't predictable. There were genuine red herrings and clues, giving the reader their own chance to solve the crime along with the heroine.

Maggy's an incredible lead - she's funny, not uptight and prudish, has realistic insecurities, and loves coffee. Unlike some cozies, there is some profanity and sexual play in this one, so it's more realistic. The humor is hilarious when it happens and what really makes this book brew - the discovery of the body especially held me in laughs. Fun stuff.

The ending is sympathetic and, again, I love Maggy and how she handles stuff. With the intriguing mystery, the excellent characters, hilarious and non-forced humor, I can't wait to read more of this series and highly recommend it to all cozy mystery fans.

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