I’ve never been on a cruise, but it’s certainly on my “one day” list, although hopefully it will be less adventurous than Sidney Marsh’s in Shore Excursion by Marie Moore.

Sidney works for a travel agent and its her job this time around to escort the High Steppers, a group of mostly senior citizens, on a cruise through Scandinavia to Russia. Sidney’s expecting a routine trip. She knows most of the High Steppers and although some are definitely eccentric, she does enjoy them. But when one of the little old ladies is killed and the murder is more or less covered up, Sidney realizes a couple of things. Her High Steppers are in danger. There’s a killer on the boat and she seems to be the only one who wants to find the truth.

I enjoyed this quick read. Sidney’s a good character, persistent,intelligent for the most part, and she truly enjoys her job. I also like that the need for her amateur investigation makes sense. The cruise company doesn’t want to deal with the murder, so they label it suicide and go one with routine. Sidney knows that’s not the case and can’t relax and just  let it go. She has to find out the truth. She feels like she owes it to the dead woman and needs to keep the other members of her party safe.

The characters really are the highlight for me in this mystery. Jay is the group’s other tour leader, and he is just hilarious, from his costumes to his late nights, he’s a wonderful foil for Sidney. But they’re best friends and in the end will support each other. The High Steppers themselves are an interesting group. A couple are annoying, some are sweet, some are rich, some save every penny for these trips. I like that Sidney and Jay appreciate their clients, enjoy them for the most part.

As far as the plot goes, it was okay. It kept me reading, trying to figure out what was going on, and seeing what situation Sidney was going to find herself in next. I had some inkling on who one of the bad guys was, but the other surprised me. Looking back, I think the clues were there, I just never see them.

You’ve also got a bit of shipboard flirting going on, which added to the fun, for me. I like a little romance thrown into my mysteries, even if I can’t understand Sidney’s taste in men.

The author spent 15 years as a travel agent and it shows. She certainly knows the ins and outs of the business, giving the whole book a truly authentic feel.

Shore Excursion took me on a cruise filled with danger, secrets, excitement and intrigue. I can’t wait to go on another trip with Sidney.

3½ out of 5 stars

Category: Mystery – Amateur Sleuth

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Sidney Marsh #1
To be released April 1, 2012
219 pages

March Mystery Madness is hosted by Christina at Reading Thru the Night.

Book source: Tribute Books Blog Tours