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SET SAIL FOR MURDER
By Carolyn Hart
Wm. Morrow, 2007 ($23.95 )
Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel
Retired journalist Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins can't believe her eyes when her phone rings and the caller ID shows the name "James A. Lennox." Jimmy was at one time a dear friend, and much more than that. She'd loved him, but not enough to accept his proposal of marriage. They'd taken different paths, and her life had been happy for the most part, but she'd often wondered through the years if she'd made a mistake in turning him down.
Henrie O. hesitates to answer his call, reluctant to open old wounds. She knows he recently married Sophia Montgomery, a renown documentary film maker, and she wonders why he's calling her now. When she finally answers, he tells her a somewhat unbelievable story. Sophia's last husband, wealthy businessman Frank Riordan, left her in charge of deciding when, or if, his four children would gain control of their sizable trust funds, and she is determined to carry out his wishes. His offspring are not too happy with that situation, and Jimmy thinks at least one of them is so unhappy he or she is willing to commit murder. The family is going on a luxurious two week Baltic cruise, during which Sophia will make her decision, and Jimmy begs Henrie O. to join them and use her investigative skills to find out who wants to kill Sophia.
Reluctantly she agrees. She and Jimmy plan for it to appear that her being on the cruise is just a coincidence, but Sophia lets them know none too subtly that she doesn't believe a word of it, and that she is not at all happy to be sharing her husband with an old lover. Nonetheless, Henrie O. made a promise, and she intends to keep it. She gets to know the Riordan children, grown now but with an obvious grudge against their step-mother for her treatment of them when they were younger. When their mother died, Frank's sister Evelyn stepped in to help out, but when Frank died Sophia sent the kids off to boarding school. That decision led to a tragedy that marred their childhood.
Son Alex, always trying to follow in his father's footsteps, has been involved in a series of failed ventures, and is on the brink of starting another, if only he can get control of his money. His wife Madge is high maintenance, and is openly scornful of her husband. Kent is a reporter and writer, and Sophia's meddling in his love life has made him openly hostile to her. Rosemary, a hostess on a cruise ship, is a sexy redhead with an outgoing personality. Valerie, who works for an independent film maker, is a pale imitation of her sister, quiet, cool, and brooding. Their Aunt Evelyn, who continued to live with Sophia even after her marriage to Jimmy, is a warm, caring soul who loves her nieces and nephews dearly and is as protective of them as a mother hen. Henrie wonders if any of them could really hate Sophia enough to kill her, but she doesn't wonder for long.
This is an excellent addition to the Henrie O. series. She is an admirable and believable mature sleuth, a person one would want to have for a friend. I enjoyed taking a vicarious cruise with her, dressing up and dining at the captain's table, admiring the buildings of St. Petersburg, reliving old memories in the Tivoli Gardens. You might, as I did, figure out whodunnit early on, but don't let that stop you from going along for the ride.
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