Lizzie Mancini has been deserted, the night before her wedding, by a fiance who is suddenly “not the marrying type.” She is stubbornly determined, however, not to waste her honeymoon reservations, and sets off for sunshine and relaxation in Belize. At the airport, she meets a guy named Michael, who has also been dumped by a girlfriend, and he proposes that they pose as each other’s new spouse, in order to avoid pity and awkward questions from fellow honeymooners. She agrees on a whim, but regrets it the moment she meets the scuba-diving instructor, Jack. Unfortunately, shortly after the “fight” she and Michael stage to leave her free to flirt with Jack, Michael is found on the beach – stone dead.
This turns Lizzie’s dream honeymoon into a nightmare, as she is suddenly the police’s primary suspect. Can she and her impetuous friend Jane help track down the killer before she’s convicted of a murder she didn’t do? Is Jack the man Lizzie’s looking for – or is he the murderer she’s hunting? Who was Michael, really, and what was he up to?
This is a lively, entertaining and action-packed mystery, which does not ever stop moving for long. The story is full of mischievous humor and comic situations, which break the tension a bit despite Lizzie’s dire situation. The potential romance between Lizzie and Jack leaves the air charged with other sorts of tension. Minor characters, meanwhile, seem to shift and change as we get to know them better (or not), appearing now as good guys, now as bad guys, with tantalizing effectiveness. Only three characters are allowed to completely escape the reader’s suspicion – Lizzie, Jane, and Jack’s friend Fred, (whose case is materially helped by the fact that he is, technically, a baby sea turtle). Some of the situations in the book seem a tad improbable, even farcical in places. One has to wonder a bit, for example, at Lizzie’s willingness to trust a man she’s never seen before, even in the admittedly emotionally vulnerable state she’s in. The romance with Jack is more physical than emotional (completely understandable, under the circumstances), so someone looking for a moving and sentimental love story may wish to look elsewhere – this is much more along the lines of a bedroom farce. The resolution is perhaps a bit too easy, with the characters’ detective work proving less important than a fortuitous encounter in the end, but there’s still plenty of room for the reader’s own detective skills to succeed (or not) at the classic game of “whodunit”.
Still, if you can suspend your disbelief long enough to get into the spirit of the book, it’s a delightfully playful mystery. A reader can easily spend an entertaining hour or two attempting to solve the murder and separate out the characters into criminals, undercover cops, and/or innocent passers-by (if there ever is such a character, in a book like this – well, other than Fred, that is).
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader