Friday, October 30, 2020

Bookshelf Traveling for Halloween

I am participating in the Bookshelf Traveling For Insane Times meme. It was originated by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness, but Katrina at Pining for the West is now gathering the blogposts.

For Halloween, I am sharing two more of my husband's bookshelves. 

The first shelf has more of his books of ghost stories.  Only three ghost story books are visible, but there are others behind the books facing out. Also on this shelf is a volume of Shakespeare's comedies, several books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and two volumes of poetry.

The second shelf is a mixed bag of books, and the ornaments on the shelves fit the Halloween theme. Here there are several Arkham House books by H. P. Lovecraft and several books by Sinclair Lewis. 

Several of the books on this shelf have lovely covers. Here are a couple of them.

Prince Zaleski and Cummings King Monk by M. P. Shiel collects seven supernatural detective stories from the late 19th century and the early 20th century. NancyO discusses the Prince Zaleski stories at the Crime Segments blog.

The Best of John Bellairs is comprised of three young adult fantasy novels featuring Lewis Barnevelt, a ten-year-old boy who lives with his Uncle Jonathan. Each novel in this edition is illustrated by a different artist. 

  • The House with a Clock in Its Walls (1973) - illustrated by Edward Gorey
  • The Figure in the Shadows (1975) - illustrated by Mercer Mayer
  • The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring (1976) - illustrated by Richard Egielski

Thursday, October 29, 2020

City of the Lost: Kelley Armstrong

I was drawn to this book for several reasons. It is set in a very cold, very isolated area and I like that kind of story. The author is Canadian, and I am always interested in books set in Canada. And it was recommended by Cath at Read-Warbler and Kay at Kay's Reading Life

I liked the premise. Casey, a talented policewoman, has a secret in her past and is afraid it will be revealed. She doesn't really want to run away, but her friend Diana has an abusive ex-husband who won't leave her alone, and Diana finds a place that will take them both in. It is a small town in the Yukon wilderness, so isolated that most modern conveniences are lacking. A town council has to approve new inhabitants, and Casey and Diana are accepted.

I loved reading about how the town existed with no internet, cell phones, or email, and with limited access to food. All travel is by horse or all-terrain vehicles. No cars. There is a hierarchy within the town determined by what each person contributes in their job, and how useful it is to the town.

The story was dark, gritty, and violent, but not to an extreme that bothered me. Casey is able to work with the sheriff of the town, as a detective, which gives her some perks that others don't have. The town has had its first murder before she arrived, which is one reason she was allowed in. 

The best aspects of the story are a strong female lead character, a fast-moving plot, and convincing characterizations. The story is told in present tense, but I don't remember that being a problem for me this time. I will be continuing this series, which at this point has four additional books. This is the only book I have read by this author, but she is also well-known for her books in the urban fantasy genre. 


Publisher:   Minotaur Books, 2017 (orig. publ. 2016).
Length:      403 pages
Format:      Trade Paper
Series:       Rockton, #1
Setting:      Yukon,  Canada
Genre:        Police Procedural
Source:      Purchased in 2019.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Short Story Wednesday: The Fever Tree by Ruth Rendell

This collection contains 10 short stories and one novella. None of them are Inspector Wexford stories. 

All of the stories are excellent.  Usually I avoid Ruth Rendell's standalone novels; they are too intense for me. But I have found these short stories, although they have the same elements, to be good reads. They have just enough suspense. 

The stories are:

  • The Fever Tree
  • The Dreadful Day of Judgement
  • A Glowing Future
  • An Outside Interest
  • A Case of Coincidence
  • Thornapple (novella)
  • May and June
  • A Needle for the Devil
  • Front Seat
  • Paintbox Place
  • The Wrong Category

Here are some notes on the stories I especially liked:

The Fever Tree

One of the shorter stories. A husband makes a last effort to save his marriage on a visit to an African game preserve, with unexpected results.

A Glowing Future

An unfaithful lover asks his old girlfriend to help pack his belongings for shipping to his new lover in Australia.

An Outside Interest 

First sentence: "Frightening people used to be a hobby of mine."


This is the longest story in the book. It is told from the viewpoint of a young boy whose hobby is distilling poisons from plants. Very well told, with several unsympathetic characters.

May and June

May is jilted by her rich, handsome boyfriend when he meets her beautiful sister, June. They marry and May obsesses about this for years. 

A Needle for the Devil

My favorite story in the collection. A nurse who loves to knit meets an older retired man who is ready to get married. After marriage, they are both intolerant of the other needs, which leads to some extreme measures. The best part: a friend who is a mystery writer who kept spouting the most ingenious ways to kill people and not be detected.


Publisher:   Ballantine Books, 1984. Orig. pub. 1982.
Length:      183 pages
Format:      Paperback
Setting:      UK
Genre:       Mystery, short stories
Source:      I purchased my copy.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Bookshelf Traveling: Ghost Stories

I am participating in the Bookshelf Traveling For Insane Times meme. It was originated by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness, but Katrina at Pining for the West is now gathering the blogposts.

Since Halloween is coming soon, this time I am sharing a shelf of my husband's ghost story books. 

He has several books by Robert Aickman on this shelf, plus books by Robert Westall, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, and M. R. James. Also on this shelf are collections edited by Roald Dahl, Dashiell Hammett, and Sir Horace Walpole. His favorites are the Robert Aickman stories and Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

A Trick of the Light: Louise Penny

The books in the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny often focus on murders and activities in the fictional town of Three Pines in Quebec. Two of the characters in that town are Clara and Peter Morrow, both artists. Penny has focused on their relationship in several of the mysteries prior to this one, and they are the main focus in this one.

In A Trick of the Light, a murder takes place in the Morrow's back yard, while they entertain neighbors and people from the art scene following Clara's show at the Musee d’Art Contemporain in Montreal. In the Morrow family, Peter has always been the prominent artist, well-known and appreciated. Clara has been in his shadow but now she is getting more attention than he is, and he doesn't react well.

The body of a dead woman is found the following day and Inspector Gamache is called in to investigate the death.  He is a friend of the Morrows and many other people in Three Pines, thus working on the murder is a bit awkward for him. Another element of the story, intertwined with the mystery plot, is the increasing strain on Clara's relationship with Peter.  

In previous posts on this series, I have noted that Inspector Gamache is almost too perfect, with no flaws. He is a likable character, a dedicated policeman yet compassionate. As the series progresses we learn more about Gamache; he has had some traumatic experiences to deal with. And he becomes more interesting.

Louise Penny is very good at creating characters we want to read about, and she has some new ones in this book that are very compelling, even if most of them are devious. She also continues to develop the main characters, both in Three Pines and in Inspector Gamache's team. This was a good entry in the series, and I enjoyed returning to Three Pines.

This book is #7 in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. There are now 16 books in the series, which means I still have quite a few of them to read. I recommend reading them in order.

See other reviews at Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan and Mysteries in Paradise.

Publisher:   Minotaur Books, 2012 (orig. publ. 2011)
Length:      351 pages
Format:      Trade paper
Series:        Inspector Gamache, #7
Setting:      Three Pines, Quebec,  Canada
Genre:        Police Procedural
Source:      I purchased this book.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Short Story Wednesday: Clarkesworld Year 5

Clarkesworld Magazine is an online magazine started in 2006 which publishes science fiction and fantasy stories. Neil Clarke is the editor and publisher. 

The stories in Clarkesworld Year 5, ed. by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace, were published in Clarkesworld Magazine between October 2010 and September 2011. Of the 24 stories in the book, most are science fiction, a few are fantasy, and some I am not sure about. I enjoyed reading almost all of them. 

Rick Robinson at Tip the Wink generously sent me this short story collection to read.

Here are my thoughts on the first three stories in the book, all of which were good reads. 

"Ghostweight" by Yoon Ha Lee

This is the first story in the book and my favorite of the collection. As soon as I finished reading it, I read it again. Partly because the ending confused me, but mostly just because I enjoyed it so much.

At Yoon Ha Lee's website, this story is described as "Fantasy in space: origami, ghosts, and atrocities." A young cadet seeks revenge on the mercenaries that attacked her planet. She has a ghost attached, sewn on by her parents, which was a tradition in her society. The ghost assists her in her quest. Yet she finds out later that nothing is as it seems. Some reviewers noted that the resolution of the story was unclear. True, but not a problem for me.

The story is available online here. More stories by Yoon Ha Lee's stories are available online Free Speculative Fiction Online

"Perfect World" by Gwendolyn Clare

Another very interesting story set in space, dealing with interspecies communication. The Mask People are hyper-expressive and hyper-observant, and they wear masks to hide their expressions. Humans want to negotiate an agreement with them. Nora is hired by the UN's Interworld Relations Organization as an ambassador because she can control her expressions and lie successfully to the Mask People.

The story is available online here

“Tying Knots” by Ken Liu

This was one of the stories that did not seem like science fiction or fantasy to me. No matter, I liked the story a lot.

There are two main characters, Soe-bo and To-Mu, who each narrate parts of the story. To-Mu is from the US and has traveled from Boston to visit Soe-bo's village in the Burmese mountains. Soe-bo is gifted at knot-writing, used by his people to keep historic records. He is persuaded to come to Boston and share his knot-writing skills with To-mu in exchange for new rice seeds to improve the harvest. 

A thought-provoking story, and very sad. The story is available online here


Publisher:   Wyrm Publishing, 2013 
Length:       287 pages 
Format:       Trade paper
Genre:        Science fiction, Fantasy, Short stories
Source:       A gift.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

A Necessary End: Peter Robinson

This is the 3rd book in the Inspector Banks series.  I read the first two books in this series before blogging, thus at least 8 years ago. It was a good book to pick up the series with, giving some background on Banks' family and his reasons for moving to Eastvale. 

From the description at Goodreads:

A peaceful demonstration in the normally quiet town of Eastvale ends with fifty arrests—and the brutal stabbing death of a young constable. But Chief Inspector Alan Banks fears there is worse violence in the offing. For CID Superintendent Richard Burgess has arrived from London to take charge of the investigation, fueled by professional outrage and volatile, long-simmering hatreds.

Richard Burgess is a policeman that Banks had worked with a few times in London, before he transferred to Eastdale. He is sometimes referred to as "Dirty Dick" Burgess, and Banks has found him a hard man to work with. He is a recurring character in this series, showing up in three later books in the series.

Burgess focuses some of his investigation on a group of people living at Maggie's Farm in a commune-like setting. The author provides excellent characterizations of that group of people and their relationships. The reasons behind the death of the constable are gradually revealed. I like the way Peter Robinson tells the story and also how we get some idea of Inspector Banks' personal life without it intruding on the story.

In my opinion, this book can be read as a standalone; you don't need to start at the beginning of the series. And I have read other reviews where the readers had hopped around in this series. I would rather read in order but when a series has been around this long (with a total of  26 books now), it is good to have other options.

I enjoy books set in the 1980s and 1990s, before so much technology in society and detecting. Also, there are several mentions of the music that Banks enjoys throughout. I am not a big music fan but I do think such information can give you a better picture of a character.

The author is Canadian (born in the UK, but emigrated to continue his education in Canada) but the series is set in Yorkshire, England. Five of the novels in the Inspector Banks series have been awarded the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel.


Publisher:  Avon Books, 2000. Orig. pub. 1989.
Length:     340 pages
Format:     Paperback
Series:      Inspector Alan Banks, #3
Setting:     UK
Genre:      Police Procedural
Source:    I purchased this book in 2011.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

"The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb" by Agatha Christie

 I recently read three of the short stories from Detective Stories (chosen by Philip Pullman). They were:

"The Speckled Band" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"Cold Money" by Ellery Queen

"The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb" by Agatha Christie

I enjoyed all of those but today I will talk about the Agatha Christie story. We have been watching adaptations of the Hercule Poirot stories in Agatha Christie's Poirot, starring David Suchet. I don't know why it took me so long to try the adaptations of the Hercule Poirot stories, although at some point it was probably because of having no access to them. Now we have Brit Box via Prime and can watch all the seasons. We have not gotten to this episode which is fortunate, because I would rather have read it first. I am enjoying the series and David Suchet's version of Poirot. He is perfect in the role. "The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb" is the first episode in Season Five and we have watched most of Season Three. 

In "The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb," Hercule Poirot is requested to investigate the death of Sir John Willard, who died after the discovery and opening of the tomb of King Men-her-Ra. Several other deaths of members of the expedition involved in that event have also died, and there is much talk of a curse related to the opening of the tomb.

Lady Willard, Sir John's wife, is concerned that there will be more deaths, and her son is now continuing the excavations at the tomb. After some investigation of the related deaths, Poirot decides he and Hastings must travel to Egypt, even though he hates the thought of traveling by sea.

And in the end, of course, Poirot solves the mystery of the many deaths connected to the opening of the Egyptian tomb.

I love Hastings' narration. When I began reading the novels in 2012, I was disappointed that Hastings did not narrate all of them.

Hastings describes their arrival in Egypt:

The charm of Egypt had laid hold of me. Not so Poirot. Dressed precisely the same as in London, he carried a small clothes-brush in his pocket and waged an unceasing war on the dust which accumulated on his dark apparel.

‘And my boots,’ he wailed. ‘Regard them, Hastings. My boots, of the neat patent leather, usually so smart and shining. See, the sand is inside them, which is painful, and outside them, which outrages the eyesight. Also the heat, it causes my moustaches to become limp—but limp!’

This was my favorite of the three stories I have read so far in Detective Stories. And it is the first Hercule Poirot short story I have read. It did not disappoint.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Bookshelf Traveling #22: Travel Books

I am participating in the Bookshelf Traveling for Insane Times meme. It was originated by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness, but Katrina at Pining for the West is now gathering the blogposts.

This time I have a shelf of my husband's travel books. 

Of these books, his favorite is Chasing the Monsoon by Alexander Frater. Frater was, at the time this book was published, the chief travel writer for the London Observer

From the dust jacket of my husband's edition:

For two months, Frater followed the Indian monsoon–as closely as storm-driven or -hindered transportation would allow–along its unpredictable course through the country: from the "burst" on the beaches of the tropical city of Trivandrum...through inundated or parched landscapes and towns...through sweltering, impatient Delhi, to Calcutta, for his first meeting with the monsoon's eastern arm...across the flooded expanses of Bangladesh... and finally to the storm's grand finale in Cherrapunji, where the stories Frater had heard as a child came to life in an amazingly sodden reality.

The book on this shelf that I am most interested in is Last Train to Toronto by Terry Pindell. Pindell has written other train travel books (including Making Tracks: An American Rail Odyssey, which is also on this shelf). 

From the back of the trade paperback Owl Book edition:

Crossing North America on Canada's transcontinental railways has long been among the travel wonders of the world. But, in 1990, government cutbacks forced the remarkable Canadian to make its last run from Vancouver to Toronto over the tracks that founded the nation. Amid political controversy about the future of Canadian unity that raged during the last years of the route's existence, author Terry Pindell explored the thousands of miles of Canadian rails. In this memoir-travelogue, he recounts from a unique perspective not only a journey but a land and a culture.

Another book I may try someday is The Big Red Train Ride by Eric Newby. That book is about the author's trip across the USSR on the Trans-Siberian Railway, accompanied by his wife, an official guide and a photographer. 

Some reviews indicate that this book is tedious because Newby was not allowed to talk to many people in the USSR and many cities were not open to foreign visitors. I think I would enjoy it anyway. This sounds much like Michael Palin's North Korea Journal. I did not find Palin's book tedious at all, but Palin's access to North Koreans and some areas in North Korea was limited.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

#1956Club: The Keys of My Prison

This book is my second submission for the 1956 Club hosted by Simon at Stuck in a Book and Karen at Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings. The Keys of My Prison by Frances Shelley Wees is a novel of domestic suspense set in Toronto, Canada, and this was the first book by that author that I have read.

As the story opens, Julie is keeping vigil at her husband's bedside, nearly two weeks after he was in a terrible car accident. Rafe Jonason has been in a coma since the accident, but seems to be getting better. Rafe and Julie have been married 15 years and have an infant son. Julie was born with a disfiguring birthmark on her face, which affected how she was treated by people and her own self-image. The birthmark was removed after her marriage to Rafe, but she still bears the mental scars of its effects.

When Rafe awakens from his coma in the hospital, he doesn't know where he is or who Julie is, and his behavior is rude and vulgar. On his return to their home, he doesn't recognize it and he turns to drink and cigarettes, which are habits that Rafe never indulged in all the time that Julie knew him. He seems to have amnesia, but his personality is completely different. Julie doesn't know where to go from there. 

I liked the characterizations in this book. Not only the main characters but also the secondary characters are well defined and interesting. Julie is supported by both her Aunt Edie and the family doctor who was treating Rafe. Robin, a lawyer and close friend of the family, seeks help from a psychologist associated with the police, Jonathan Merrill. Once Rafe comes home, Henry Lake, a policeman who works with the psychologist, takes an undercover position at Julie's home for both her protection and to observe the situation. Merrill and Lake have been compared to Holmes and Watson, or Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, in reviews I have read. The Wolfe / Goodwin comparison seems more apt to me, since Henry Lake takes a very active part in the case.

A major theme is identity. Not just Rafe's identity, but Julie's. Rafe is belligerent and swears he would never have married Julie. Julie is tense, scared, wonders what the future holds. Since their marriage, Julie has depended on Rafe's love and emotional support; now he is rejecting her, and showing a side of his personality that she has never seen. Did he every love her? What does her future hold?

Per the introduction by Rosemary Aubert in the Vehicule Press edition, the 1966 reprint edition was billed as "A Gothic novel of suspense." Not my usual type of reading, but I enjoyed it. The author takes a while setting up the situation but at no time did my interest lag. As the story played out I liked it more and more. The final resolution was interesting and handled well, although a lot of my questions were left unanswered.

I first heard about this book when Brian Busby discussed it at his blog, The Dusty Bookcase. He compared Wees's writing in this novel to Margaret Millar's, and I agree with that assessment, as Millar's book mainly focus on the psychology of relationships and behavior. A few years later, Brian was able to bring out this new paperback edition of the book as a part of the Ricochet Books imprint at Vehicule Press. 

The introduction by Rosemary Aubert is an excellent analysis of the book, but it reveals more of the story than I would want to know before reading the book. I saved it until after I finished the book.


Publisher:  Vehicule Press, 2017 (orig. pub., 1956)
Length:    187 pages
Format:   Paperback
Setting:   Toronto
Genre:    Domestic suspense
Source:   I purchased this book.

Monday, October 5, 2020

#1956Club: Voyage into Violence

I read this book for the 1956 Club hosted by Simon at Stuck in a Book and Karen at Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings.

Voyage into Violence is the 21st of 26 mysteries featuring Mr. and Mrs. North. Amateur sleuths are not my favorites, but Pam and Jerry North usually work with a New York City homicide detective, Bill Weigand. So the cases are really solved by the police, with their help. It seems that in the ones I have read recently, Pam is the sleuth in the family, but her contribution is often more intuitive than actual sleuthing.

The main characters in this series are very likable. If I remember correctly, Pam and Jerry are directly involved in a murder in the first one, and that is how they meet Bill Weigand. In the early books, Dorian is Bill's girlfriend and the two couples become friends. By the time of this mystery, Bill and Dorian are married and the two couples have gone on a Caribbean cruise together. 

Very shortly, a murder occurs and the Captain of the ship calls in Bill to help out. Dorian is not happy about this at all, but resigned to the inevitability of it all. Pam and Jerry are of course glad to help out.

The people involved in the crimes in these books are usually upper middle class. Jerry North is a book publisher and comparatively well off. Weigand is a police officer, but has money from other sources. And in this case, they are on a cruise, among other people with enough money to take a cruise. Definitely not something my parents were thinking about doing in 1956.

I enjoyed the depiction of a cruise in 1956, and the investigation that ensues when a dead body, clearly murdered, is discovered onboard. The limitations that Weigand has to deal with in his investigation are interesting. Communications between the ship and the mainland was more difficult at that time. 

I noted lots of smoking, in fact the cruise ship has a smoking lounge. And a lot of imbibing of alcohol. In my review of an earlier book in the series, Murder within Murder, I compared Pam and Jerry to Nick and Nora Charles, although that is only in relation to their drinking and the light tone of the stories. Nick Charles is clearly a sleuth where Jerry North is more in a supporting role, especially in this novel. The novels about the Norths are light, with humor, but not laugh out loud funny.

There are lots of interesting passengers on the cruise: a group called the Ancient and Respectable Riflemen, led by Captain Folsom; a well-known private investigator, now retired, J. Orville Marsh; Olivia Macklin, traveling with her daughter. And all of these people seem slightly shady to me.

I read a good number of the Mr. and Mrs North books decades ago and enjoyed them. Of course, at the time I was reading them, they were not set so far in the past; these books may not appeal to younger mystery readers.


Publisher:   J. B. Lippincott, 1956
Length:       191 pages
Format:       Hardcover 
                  (book club edition)
Series:        Mr. & Mrs. North, #21
Setting:       On a Caribbean cruise.
Genre:        Mystery
Source:       I purchased my copies.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Reading Summary for September 2020

I am having a hard time believing that we are already into October and I am summarizing my reads for September. My reading changed a lot this year. It was partially due to Covid-19, I am sure but not only because of that. I think some of my challenges that I started the year with are not going to be completed and I doubt if I will push myself in the last three months to catch up. 

This month I read seven books. Four of the books were vintage mysteries, published in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Two of them were spy fiction, although they were very different books. And one of the books was science fiction. All of them were very good reads.

Science Fiction

The Last Emperox (2020) by John Scalzi

This is the last book in the Interdependency trilogy. The first book was The Collapsing Empire, which I reviewed here. I liked the 2nd and 3rd books in the trilogy even more than the first one.

Crime Fiction

The Way Some People Die (1951) by Ross Macdonald

This is the third Lew Archer book, and Lew is trying to find a missing woman for her mother. He tells the mother that this type of case is for the police; she doesn't want the police involved. The plot is very convoluted and the characters are great. My review here.

The Arms Maker of Berlin (2009) by Dan Fesperman

I could not decide whether this was spy fiction or just a thriller. Certainly intelligence agents are involved, and the thrills are low key. A history professor who specializes in German resistance during World War II gets mixed up with the FBI when his former mentor is arrested for stealing important documents. His work leads to exposure of wartime secrets and deceit, and includes visits to Bern, Switzerland and Berlin, Germany. I loved this book; it did have a slow start, but there is lots of action towards the end.

The Beast Must Die (1938) by Nicholas Blake

This is the 4th book in the Nigel Strangeways series. Frank Cairnes is a writer of detective fiction, a widower, and cannot accept that his only son is dead and the hit-and-run driver has never been found. The book starts with a journal where Cairnes describes his plans to find and kill the person who killed his son. Strangeways doesn't show up until about halfway through the book. My review here.

Laurels Are Poison (1942) by Gladys Mitchell

This is the 14th book in the Mrs. Bradley series, a series which totals 66 books. In this one, Mrs. Bradley is serving as Warden of Athelstan Hall at Cartaret Training College. She is there to investigate the disappearance of Miss Murchan, the previous Warden. I read this as part of a group read, hosted at Jason Half's blog. I enjoyed the book and will be reading more in this series.

American Spy (2019) by Lauren Wilkinson

This is a debut novel. It can be classified as spy fiction, but it is not only focused on espionage. The protagonist, Marie Mitchell, is black and female, and has been working for the FBI in the New York office. The story is set partially in New York, and partially in Burkina Faso, and it has an unusual structure, told in the style of a journal written for her young sons. It is an exploration of family dynamics and influences, and how the past shapes us. There are many flashbacks to Marie's childhood, her motivation for being a spy, and why she fits in that job so well. 

Voyage into Violence (1956) by Frances and Richard Lockridge

This is the 21st of 26 mysteries featuring Mr. and Mrs. North. I consider these mysteries to be light, fun reads. I don't want a steady diet of them, but they are great for mixing in with more gritty or serious reading. Over the course of the series, Pam and Jerry North have become good friends with Bill Weigand, New York City homicide detective, and his wife Dorian. In this book the two couples are taking a Caribbean cruise to Havana. A man is murdered and Bill is called on to investigate.