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Murder Packs a Suitcase    by Cynthia Baxter Amazon.com order for
Murder Packs a Suitcase
by Cynthia Baxter
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Bantam, 2008 (2008)
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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Author Cynthia Baxter has taken a brief hiatus from her Reigning Cats & Dogs mystery series to bring us a new potagonist, Mallory Marlowe. Newly widowed Mallory is at sixes and sevens at to what to do with the rest of her life alone, without the love and support of her late husband. Been there, done that.

Her daughter suggests she get out of the house and find something useful to do. When Mallory lands a job as a travel writer for a well-known publication and is due to fly to Florida for her first assignment almost immediately, said daughter is nonplussed. It's not exactly what Amanda had in mind.

Of course, nothing ever goes smoothly, as Mallory quickly discovers. In Orlando, she joins a group of travel writers from various publications. A couple of altercations with one of them does not bode well for a good outcome for her first venture in this new job. When that writer turns up murdered, Mallory is immediately fingered as the chief suspect.

While Mallory works to clear her name, she motors from one tourist attraction to another to see the places for herself so she can write about them. In fact, the author writes very knowingly about old world Florida, Gaterland, Ripley's Believe It or Not Orlando Odditorium, Orange World, Shell World, etc., etc.. While I enjoyed her forays into those places I have not seen, I felt the mystery of the murder got rather lost in Florida's sand. (The back of the book also has brief descriptions of each tourist spot Mallory visited.)

I have to admit though that I enjoyed Murder Packs a Suitcase and hope that Baxter continues with this series. Mallory is spunky and very likable. Most of all, she is capable of standing up for herself and not moaning and groaning when she's in an unpalatable situation. Her two kids have problems but seem to work them out themselves best when Mommy isn't around. A lesson there?

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