Title: A Cruise to Die For (Alix London #2)
Authors: Charlotte and Aaron Elkins
Read by: Kate Rudd
Published: September 3, 2013 by Thomas & Mercer
Audio published: September 3, 2013 by Brilliance Audio
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
This should be the cushiest job Alix London’s ever had.
The second Alix London mystery finds the art restorer in a world brimming with idle luxury, spectacular locations, and deadly intrigue.
Surrounded by art and wealth and the sun-drenched Greek isles, she’s aboard a sumptuous mega-yacht with no responsibilities save the occasional lecture to the guests of her temporary employer, Panos Papadakis, one of the world’s richest men. But there’s a catch: Papadakis has long been suspected of being at the center of a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme and Alix is actually there as an undercover operative of FBI special agent Ted Ellesworth, a member of the Bureau’s Art Crime Team. They hope Alix can gather the inside information they need to finally put the cagey Papadakis away.
Alix’s exposure to the enormous wealth of high-end collectors and the shadier aspects of the art trade—the avarice, naked greed, and ingenious scams — somehow brings her closer to her charming, “reformed” rogue of a father, and helps crystalize in her own mind just where she fits into the mix.
A Cruise to Die For was a nice escape from our cold winter. Imagine sailing around Greece on a luxury yacht surrounded by the rich and famous and beautiful artwork – even with the vandalism and murder it sounds way nicer than freezing in small town Ohio. It’s the second in the series, but I have not read the first. I felt like it worked well as a stand-alone, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. It gave enough background into the characters, without feeling like it was overload.
Alix is a the daughter of an art forger who has served time in jail and is now out. He is a charming, intelligent man, even if he only plays a bit part here. She is an art restorer with a connoisseur’s eye. She can tell when a painting is a forgery by looking at it and then examines the paints, signature, style, whatever afterwards to confirm her gut feeling. Her knowledge of art and the art world is why the FBI have recruited her to go on the cruise, she can discuss the art intelligently while keeping her eyes and ears open. She’s a bit bumbling in her spying, but who can blame her. There’s way more going on than she was aware of. In addition to the Ponzi scam, we’ve forgeries that are vandalized, a couple of murders, a smuggling ring. She’s in over her head, but still manages to hold her own.
Ted, Alix’s supervisor with the FBI, shows up. I’m not sure I like him. He slips into his undercover roles a little too easily – I’m not sure you could ever actually believe or trust him.
The secondary characters are a little one-dimensional. There’s a rock star, and a couple eccentric millionaires. There’s the art dealer, who is mostly worried about getting his cut, and Papadakis and his wife, who are not exactly a happy couple. The yacht is staffed mostly by Papadakis’ relatives, some of whom are competent and some just too nosey.
The mystery itself is okay, although a little overshadowed by the characters. It somehow felt complicated and simple at the same time, if that makes sense. The clues and red herrings kept me guessing who it was, but then once the whodunit was established, I felt like I should have realized it all along. I wasn’t terribly fond of how the solution was presented either, but that’s minor.
I listened to it on audio, and the reader, Kate Rudd, did a good job. I think she captured the personalities of the characters well, especially Alix. It was a nice, light one to listen to, it kept my interest but was not so engrossing that I found myself constantly with my headphones in.
Alix London Mysteries
- A Dangerous Talent
- A Cruise to Die For