Alpine for You
Author: Maddy Hunter
Pocket Books, 2003
What happens when a 29-year-old American divorcee with no previous international travel experience goes to Switzerland with her 78-year-old lottery winner Grandmother and a bunch of senior citizens from Iowa who have no previous international travel experience? In the case of Alpine for You, everything that can go wrong will. The hotel room sucks, the food is horrible, and the weather is dreadful. But things really go downhill when philandering tour guide Andy is murdered in his hotel room. When two other members of the tour group kick the bucket, everyone begins to wonder: is a septuagenarian serial killer on the loose?
Emily (the 29-year-old) volunteers to take Andy's place as tour guide when she learns she'll get a refund of her fee. After all, her "Nana" may be a lottery winner, but Emily has recently become unemployed. She soon proves herself to be a huge resource to the tour group, and she also catches the eye of the handsome police inspector Etienne Miceli. OK, so the hot-and-heavy thing with Miceli seems a little forced. And the book is definitely written from the American perspective and with the American reader in mind. But I can forgive these things because there were so many parts that had me laughing out loud. The incident with the self-cleaning toilet, for example. They have those toilets in the washrooms of my former company's Geneva office. When I visited there in 2008, I had a moment not unlike the one that Nana and the other ladies had. (This would have totally gone over my head, though, had I not been to Switzerland and seen these toilets.)
This international-themed "cozy" is the first of a series of six books called Passport to Peril. I was drawn to it because of the international focus, but I'll probably read all of the books eventually because this one was just so funny. The interplay between Emily and Nana is fantastic, and the author has a way with dialogue as well as with going off on humorous tangents. Unfortunately, according to the author's web site, the series was discontinued after the sixth book. But she's at work now on a new series (also with an international focus) and the first book should come out in 2012. If it's anything like Alpine For You, I'll be very happy.