When you go on a cruise, you expect fun and relaxation. Not murder. But for Ellie Tappet, well, it’s truly a mystery why death always finds a cozy life around her. So it is in this 4th book, The Case of the Lady in the Luggage. Once again, Ellie’s sleuthing and relationship skills take charge. Whodunnit this time? Here’s my 99.9% spoiler-free review.
Story And Atmosphere
If you’ve read any of the previous Ellie Tappet books, you know what to expect here. It’s all good clean amateur detective work. No horror, nothing graphic or lewd, no cussin’. This story is about as comfy and cozy as can be for a murder mystery. And as always, I love how light and quick it is to pick up and read, especially in bite-sized pieces.
Want to breeze through a weekend while avoiding bad reports from the news media in real life? Easy! Grab this book and you’re cruisin’.
The story is also a wholesome one since it focuses more on Ellie’s relationships than previous stories in the series. I thought it was the huggiest of all – there are hugs happening almost every chapter it seems. It makes for an uplifting mood, something totally worth escaping into.
There’s also more drama in this story to accompany the cozy mystery. One character from the past, Violet, has quite a bit of relational baggage, which plays into the plot and keeps things interesting.
Among the several returning cast members, Ellie’s story-arc is best. Her character is challenged as she has more authority than before and must balance between taking charge and being overbearing. She also shows new open-minded growth, learning to work with people who are different from her. It brings a good level of maturity to the story.
There’s also levity and cuteness with a little girl aboard, Clara. She’s a precocious karate kid – don’t cross her! Her presence punctuates the story with glee.
Another new character, who I really liked, was a British guy named Julian. His was a refreshing personality. The writing of his dialogue really brought him to life and was very well done. I’d enjoy seeing him in future stories as he brought nice contrast to the returning characters.
So, yeah, I’d say this story is more character driven than plot driven.
Early on, I thought I had a clue as to whodunnit. As usual, I was wrong. Like the first three Ellie Tappet novels, you can expect this one to offer clues or info along the way that may or may not be obvious and will keep you guessing.
I must admit that one of the main antagonists, Murray the Magician, made me think that some elaborate illusion would be key to unraveling the story’s secrets: the who and why and how of the murder. But nope; I was tricked.
In the end, while loose lips sink ships, in this story, they keep things afloat. Want the truth to come out? Use alcohol. Works every time.
Without a doubt, one of the highlights of Cheri Baker’s writing is the wrap-up at the end. Story-arcs, relationships, and the various plots are always tied-up with a nice bow. Closure is satisfying and complete. There’s heart in it, not just duty bound “i” dotting and “t” crossing.
Overall, The Case of the Lady in the Luggage
was a delightfully easy story to enjoy; it made for a relaxing weekend.
I read the novel on my iPhone in the Apple Books app. It was a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC). You can purchase a retail copy, now available.
This cruise ship cozy mystery is a recommended bit of escapism. And now’s a great time to read this short book for your annual reading goal. Even with busy holidays, this one’s easy to pick up and get into.Rating on goodreads: 3 stars.
For more of Cheri Baker’s books, check out her website here.