Death on Tour Review
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Once upon a time, while other little girls were dreaming of growing up to be teachers and nurses and mommies, I was dreaming of becoming an archaeologist. I wanted nothing more than to explore ancient lands and uncover their stories (though the thought of working so far away from home made me reconsider). Today, visiting Egypt is still toward the top of my Bucket List. But, for now, I’ll just have to be happy to explore ancient landmarks through movies and books—like Janice Hamrick’s cozy mystery debut, Death on Tour.

High school teacher Jocelyn Shore has always dreamed of visiting Egypt (just like I have)—so, in the wake of an ugly divorce, she’s convinced her cousin, Kyla, to join her on a week-long tour. Their group is filled with the usual eager families and honeymooning couples and little old ladies—but they’ve barely begun their sightseeing when one of their fellow tourists is found dead. Millie Owens was a busybody—so no one is particularly heartbroken to see her go—but when they learn that Millie’s death wasn’t an accident, it puts a damper on the experience.

  
 
Something strange is happening on the tour, and it seems as though everyone could be a suspect—even Alan Stratton, the handsome single traveler who isn’t telling the truth about who he is or why he’s there.

Death on Tour is more than just another fluffy cozy mystery. In fact, although Millie’s death opens the book—and it remains an underlying theme throughout the group’s adventures through Egypt—at times, you might just forget that you’re supposed to be helping amateur sleuth Jocelyn hunt down a killer. Really, it’s not a tough mystery to solve—and regular mystery readers will most likely crack the case quite quickly. But that’s not to say that you’ll lose interest in the story—because there’s more to it than just one little murder.

Hamrick stocks her character pond with plenty of red herrings—so almost every character comes with his or her own little mystery. There’s the outgoing doctor who eagerly haggles for all kinds of cheap trinkets. Or the Australian couple with a jumpy niece. Or the obnoxious American lawyer who’s definitely hiding something. There are plenty of other quirky characters, too—like the senile old women who constantly try tour guide Anni’s patience. Most of the characters are kooky and fun—but, since there are so many of them (and, as such, they can’t all be fully developed), it’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart.

The main characters, meanwhile, are well developed—though they aren’t without their frustrating character traits. Kyla’s vanity and selfishness make her a prickly character. And while Jocelyn is generally a likeable character, her extreme insecurity may sometimes make readers cringe. She obsesses like a teenager over Alan and his every move, getting angry and jealous when she suspects that he (like just about every other man she’s ever met) is more interested in her cousin.

While characters give the book plenty of personality, though, the best part (especially for anyone who’s ever dreamed of digging for ancient artifacts) is the tour itself. Hamrick doesn’t go into great detail about the excursions, but she gives a fascinating overview of the adventure, told through the eyes of someone who’s experiencing it all while on a crazy whirlwind budget tour.

The intriguing Egyptian settings—along with the eccentric characters, the light (but predictable) mystery, and the slight hint of romance—make Death on Tour a fun literary adventure, perfect for your summer staycation. I can’t imagine how Hamrick will top this Egyptian adventure, but, since a series is reportedly in the works, I look forward to seeing her try.

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