Format Read: eGalley
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: November 21, 2013
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords
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Blurb from goodreads:
Laura Shumway couldn’t say why she’d agreed to go on the class reunion trip to Italy. Maybe it was to take stock of her life, or maybe it was just to catch up with old friends, take in the sights, and relax in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. Either way, she knew she’d discover a lot on the trip, about both herself and her former classmates. What she didn’t expect to discover was the dead body of esteemed professor Anthony Gilbert.
Gilbert had had a long and illustrious career at the college. Now retired to Italy, he appeared as a surprise guest speaker at the women’s vacation villa, still disarmingly handsome, still charming, but not nearly so eminent in the eyes of Laura’s classmates. As a young professor all those years ago, Gilbert used his position and looks to seduce and then cast aside many of his young and impressionable students, and at least some of the women on this trip had been hurt by his false promises of love. The kind of hurt that runs deep and may have given any number of them a motive for murder.
Before the polizia or carabiniere get involved, Laura and a few trusted classmates set out among the vineyards and hills of the Italian Riviera to solve the murder on their own. With the help of some influential locals and good old-fashioned detective work, they’re soon led to the conclusion that one of their classmates might be a killer—and what started as a trip to see how far they’d all come may turn into a stark lesson about just how far one of them would go.
I didn't realize it when I requested the book, but I had read an earlier book by Connolly and I actually didn't care for that one. I had Connolly's name on my brain because she had been promoting a different release that had caught my attention; that one is on my wish list. I enjoyed this book tremendously and am very glad that I didn't recall the previous book I'd read. More books by this author are definitely in the works for me.
One thing I loved was that the leads in the story are older, as in, they are in their sixties, if I did the math right. They might be in their seventies, math was never my strong point.So that may not appeal to some readers but it worked for me. I also liked that there wasn't a romance. Oh, there was a hint of one but then it took a turn away from romance. Now, I like romances, but I'm a firm believer that not every story needs a romance and this worked beautifully without one. Though, a romance with an older heroine and hero would have been a thing of beauty.
Connolly did a beautiful job of describing Italy. I felt as if I were really there and best of all, it wasn't all tourist areas. We saw both touristy Italy and real Italy. She captured the slow pace, the meals and importance of food, and the different way of life over there. The story also moves at a slow pace but it works. I never felt impatient or wanted events to move more quickly. Laura and her friend Cynthia take it upon themselves to try and solve the mystery of professor Gilbert's death. Neither of them has any experience solving mysteries and it shows. They make mistakes, have to guess at what actions to take, and are unfamiliar with the laws of Italy. You might think that the result would be a lot of bumbling around and there is some but the insight into how their minds worked, seeing them figure out solutions and taking advantage of their skills and connections was a delight.
The mystery of Gilbert's death was well done, with lots of red herrings mixed with the genuine clues. I didn't guess what actually happened but it made sense. The characters were a delight; a mix of insecure and confident, mature with none of the absurd game playing you often see in younger characters. The women were drawn together by their shared college experiences but as they talk and get reacquainted they discover more commonalities. New friendships are made and old ones renewed. I enjoyed the little history lessons woven into the women's back stories and Gilbert's back story.
"Reunion with Death" is a travelogue, a cozy mystery, a reminiscence of old times good and bad, a look at women's friendships, and a joy to read. It was fun, engaging, and I would love to see another story with both Laura and Cynthia.