Teresa Dovalpage’s deliciously twisted novella, set on a Caribbean cruise, showcases the dark—sometimes deadly—side of celebrity.
Former Havana detective Marlene Martínez, now happily running a bakery in Miami, has booked a week-long cruise to Mexico and the Caribbean with her niece, Sarita, as the girl’s quinceañera present. Sarita is beyond thrilled to discover that a Cuban telenovela star, Carloalberto, is also aboard for the trip.
But even while trying to keep her niece away from the unsettlingly handsome actor, Marlene gets the feeling Carloalberto is in some kind of trouble—he is constantly on edge, and shady characters seem to find their way to him. When murder occurs aboard the North Star, Marlene will rely on instincts she hoped never to use again.
Well-drawn, amusing characters lift this witty novella from Dovalpage starring former Havana, Cuba, police detective Marlene Mart nez, who had a supporting role in 2019's Queen of Bones. Now the owner of La Baker a Cubana in Miami, Fla., Marlene has booked a seven-day Caribbean cruise as a quincea era present for her niece, Sarita. Just before boarding, they discover that Carloalberto, an "almost-famous" Cuban model and actor, will also be on the ship. Sarita makes it her mission to meet him, and Marlene soon realizes Mayan ruins, water parks, and swimming with dolphins don't really measure up against a hunky C-list celebrity. Keeping an eye on Sarita means also keeping tabs on Carloalberto, and Marlene begins to notice some shady characters hanging around the increasingly nervous-looking young man. Dovalpage fairly presents the clues to the subsequent murder, with just enough red herrings to keep readers on their toes. Fans of lighter mysteries will have fun.