Murder on the Orient Espresso, Balzo, Sandra (Author), Dec 2013. 208 p. Severn, hardcover, $27.95. (9780727883117).
The simulated murder mystery train event is a popular staple for many gatherings, and this Florida-set mystery writers’ conference is no exception. Accompanying her boyfriend sheriff Jake Pavlik, a featured conference speaker, for a vacation getaway in the Everglades, Maggy realizes she’s in for more of a busman’s holiday, as one of the guests is discovered dead, stabbed with a cake knife. Meanwhile, after a downpour, the tracks have flooded, and the train has stalled in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone access. Pythons, cake icing, and fierce jealousies all jumble together in an imaginative fashion as Jake and Maggy try to achieve some order out of chaos.
VERDICT A nicely hewn homage to Agatha Christie’s iconic mystery gives Balzo’s seventh caffeinated series entry (after Triple Shot) a light and breezy boost. The Florida setting jazzes up the plot, and attentive readers will delight in Balzo’s plentiful book and movie references.