Berkley, May 2002, 6.50, 288 pp.
Fifty two years old Lynne Montgomery uses the insurance money from her husband's death to buy the Booked for Travel agency. She leaves Florida for Sonoma County, California wine country where she meets her first group of travelers.
Instead of a quiet trek, the idyllic tour turns vinegary when Lynne finds the corpse of Lance Belladuce, whose family once owned Villa Belladuce. Detective Lauren Shaw investigates the homicide, which enables Lynne and her fifteen “guests” to be ahead of schedule. Next someone ruins much of the villa's wine. This is followed by another murder that finally sends the itinerary over the edge and a desperate Lynne into making inquiries into what happened to her tour.
Though the look into California wine country is charming and the amateur sleuth investigation side by side with the police procedural is entertaining, the key that makes MURDER WILL TRAVEL fun is the ensemble cast. Lynne serves as more than just the lead protagonist of the plot, as she is the nucleus that keeps the tale on the main path. The support characters have distinct personalities so that the reader knows whose who, which is quite an accomplishment when dealing with a crew of eighteen secondary people making many appearances mostly together. Fans of amateur sleuth stories will enjoy Emily Toll's “guided tour” book.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner