Vacation and time to enjoy our lives is a theme that resounds in numerous ways. There are many ways to vacation, especially as you get older. Cruising has long been a favorite although even this form of travel has received a black eye.
Marie Moore has given us another reason to worry about cruising with Shore Excursion. She has given us a funny but gutsy heroine who really cares about her clients. As the host for guided tours, Sidney Marsh, along with her best friend Jay, often work together as they follow their eclectic group of travelers. The group is a mixture of ages and call themselves the high steppers. Sidney enjoys her group, but seems to attract trouble in strange places. Her current trip begins mysteriously when she finds herself being followed by a homeless man. While the incident creeps her out, she does not dwell on it as she rounds up her group and gets them ready for the vacation of their dreams.
However, even as they bus to the terminal, they run into circumstances that seem strange and just a bit suspenseful. Their bus is sideswiped, but they are helped out by some good Samaritans. Sidney is somewhat intrigued by a few of the newer people in the group; they are not as old and do not fit the usual profile. Even as she rolls the thoughts through her mind, trouble continues to plague them.
Finally reaching the ship, she is relieved that all are there and accounted for. Yet trouble is still not far away, as she soon understands when one of her high stepper clients is found murdered. What is she to do, especially when the Captain announces the death as suicide? As the deaths continue, Sidney is determined to find the cause. Can she find the answers before any more of her group dies? Will she be able to stay out of harm’s way as she pokes her nose into the secrets someone is willing to kill for to keep quiet?
Moore has created characters so real you can visualize them. The humor that she imbues them with is contagious. Sidney is like many young women — her head is turned by handsome men, and she often makes bad decisions. But she is also very courageous and not afraid to delve into the mystery of the happenings of her charges. Her best friend Jay is such a great character; I actually wanted him to have a more active role. He was one of my favorite characters. Moore’s background in the travel industry is evident in her understanding and descriptions at each port of call. Some of the prose was like listening to the tour guide and seeing the places yourself.
If you enjoy travel, especially to different countries, you will enjoy Shore Excursion. It is light and funny, filled with enjoyable experiences. There is a bit of suspense and danger as well, but it does not overshadow the sense of fun imbued with the telling. A few red herrings are thrown in to keep you guessing, so you find it hard to second guess the culprits.
I believe this would be a fun summer or vacation read, with just enough teeth to keep you interested while lounging and enjoying the experience along with the characters.