Travel through Europe while you solve Mysteries

As I have mentioned previously, I love books reminiscent of the Golden Era of Detection. Mysteries where the plots are elaborate, the clues subtle, the characters multifaceted and the vocabulary expansive. Throw in a good dose of appropriate local color from around the world, and I’m beyond content.

I have just recently discovered the Fiona Mason Mysteries by Judith Cranswick. The premise being that following the death of her husband, 50-something Fiona takes a job as a Travel Coach Tour Manager based out of the UK. Each book follows the levelheaded guide and her endearing bus driver, Winston, as they visit various European countries, along with a coachload of interesting passengers. Along the way, they stumble upon murders, smugglers, assassinations, thieves and a very charming MI6 agent.

Book 1 – Blood in the Bulb Fields, has us off to Amsterdam during Tulip Season on Fiona’s “maiden voyage” as a Tour Manager. Unfortunately, the dead bodies start piling up before they can even cross the Channel. I find the added travel and history commentary fascinating. However, if that isn’t one of your interest, it is easy to skim over those bits without losing anything related to the crimes being solved. Mysterious deaths and diamond smuggling keep this from being the boring job Fiona’s sons think she has.

Book 2 – Blood in the Wine, is a tour of the Rhine River region with an emphasis on Mosel Wine Country, where my favorite wine originates.

I found the travelogue and wine making notes as enjoyable as the mystery itself. Was the brutal stabbing of one of the passengers related to his annoying personality and where do the missing plans for a guidance missile system fit in?

Book 3 – Blood and Chocolate, takes place¬†several months later during a culture tour of Belgium. The tour was supposed to be an easier one for Fiona as it included a private group who would be doing most of the lectures on Flemish Art. But things don’t go according to plan when a British Member of Parliament is assassinated while the group is dispersed throughout the city. Once again, Fiona finds herself relying on her faithful West Indies driver for advice and support while helping MI6 chief, Peter Montgomery-Jones answer questions that only her passengers can help with.

There are five books in the series so far. I’m reading #4 Blood Hits the Wall at the moment. If you’d like to save a few dollars, I recommend purchasing the boxed set of #1-#3. So sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery as we sleuth across Europe!

Travel, mystery and bit of romance -The “On the Run” Series

Cozy mysteries are one of my favorite fiction genres. That is, a mystery reminiscent of the Golden Era of Detective Fiction (think Agatha Christie) without a lot of foul language, violence or bedroom scenes. Most take place in a small town with the hero stumbling upon body after body. Usually, as a series progresses, it becomes more and more absurd that one tiny little village can have so many murders. (Personally, I find the theory that Jessica Fletcher on “Murder She Wrote” was serial killer amusing. I mean, a small town of of 3,500 have 274 killings in 12 years?!?! Sounds suspicious to me!!) In my opinion, cozy mystery authors should take the Nancy Drew approach. Each book stands on its own so the series doesn’t give the impression of bodies strewn about. But, I digress.

One of my other favorite things to read about is travel destinations. It doesn’t matter to me if they are places I’ve been, which means I can picture them better, or new locations to explore. Imagine my joy when I found a series that combines both mystery and travel!!

The On the Run Series, which is easily one of my favorite modern set of books, is written by Sara Rosett. It can be classified as both “cozy mystery” and “international heist.” Zoe Hunter, our spunky heroine,¬† works a variety of odd jobs, including being a travel guide editor. (Dream job!!) When her ex-husband goes missing along with several million dollars after apparently killing his business partner, Zoe becomes a ‘person of interest’ according to the FBI. As she starts looking into the situations, she finds more questions than answers about her ex’s true identity. She travels from Dallas to Vegas to Venice in the hopes of piecing it altogether and clearing her name.

Even though each volume in the series concludes with the hint of more intrigue to come, they do tie up the loose ends of that title’s plot. That is something I greatly appreciate! I hate getting to the end of a book only to feel like I am no closer to solving the mystery than when I began it.

The first book in the series, Elusive, is FREE on most ereaders. And if you enjoy it and want more, buy the Boxed Set. It gives you #2 & #3 for less than purchasing them separately.

Zoe’s further adventures find her dashing about London, strolling through Paris, sneaking through villas on the Mediterranean coast, being chased through Rome, zipping along the icy roads of the Alps and being lied to in Edinburgh.

Grab your passports and come join the fun!!