cover image Killer Cruise: A Jaine Austen Mystery

Killer Cruise: A Jaine Austen Mystery

Laura Levine, . . Kensington, $22 (251pp) ISBN 978-0-7582-2045-5

In Levine’s highly amusing if rather breathless eighth Jaine Austen mystery (after 2008’s Killing Bridezilla ), freelance writer Jaine gets a gig conducting a writing course on a seven-day cruise from L.A. to Mexico. The trouble begins when Jaine realizes her sneaky cat, Prozac, has stowed away in her luggage. Jaine bargains with Samoa, her eccentric steward, to keep Prozac’s presence a secret by promising to read and edit Do Not Distub (sic), his 900-page thriller about a “swashbuckling steward.” Levine’s lively wit keeps the familiar Love Boat –esque shenanigans afloat as Emily Pritchard, an elderly wealthy singleton, falls for Graham Palmer III, a botoxed “gentleman escort” and gold digger, who’s engaged to Cookie Esposito, the ship’s lounge singer. Emily’s engagement to Graham throws her family in a tizzy, ditto the spurned Cookie, who’s later suspected of the gigolo’s ice-pick murder. In the delicious denouement, Samoa’s bulky manuscript serves a useful nonliterary purpose. (May)