Murder is nothing to tap at. . .
The high-kicking Happy HoofersTina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise, and Ginihave been booked to flaunt their fabulous flamenco footwork on a luxury train ride through northern Spain. But when a blowhard talk show host is found deader than four-day-old flanwith Gini as suspect numero unothe feisty friends waste no time stepping into their sleuthing shoes to protect one of their own.
The dynamite dancers will have to step up their game before a clever killer brings the curtain down on one of them . . . for good!
Includes Photo Tips And Tasty Recipes
About the Author
Mary McHugh graduated from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, with a B.A. in English Literature and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. She is the author of the first four books in the Happy Hoofers seriesChorus Lines, Caviar, Corpses; and Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities; Cancans, Croissants, and Caskets, and Bossa Novas, Bikinis, and Bad Ends; nineteen nonfiction books; and two other novels. She was a contributing editor for Cosmopolitan, an articles editor at Woman's World, Travel Holiday, and Bridal Guide, and has written articles for The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and Family Circle.She loves to tap dance and to travel—two passions that inspired her to write the Happy Hoofers series. She lives in the New York area. Visit her at marymchugh.org.
Read an Excerpt
Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities
By Mary McHugh
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Mary McHugh
All rights reserved.
I must say the five of us were a good-looking group in our silky summer dresses and strappy high heels, earrings swinging, as we strolled toward the coach that would take us to the restaurant for the first dinner on our tour of northern Spain. We climbed aboard and said hello to the other passengers from our luxury train. We couldn't wait to see everything, do everything, experience everything in this amazing country.
We took seats in two available rows and craned our necks, looking out the windows at the bustling street in front of the station.
Just as the door closed and the driver gunned the engine into life, there was a loud commotion. We heard a familiar voice demanding that the bus wait for him. I looked out and saw a large, sweaty man waving his arms and shouting.
"Where is Eduardo?" he yelled. "He was supposed to make all the arrangements for me on the train. Where is he?"
I'd heard this voice before somewhere. A strong wave of dislike grabbed me. Who was this person? Why didn't I like him?
"Nobody knows how to do anything in this country," he said.
Eduardo, the host of our trip, got off the bus and held out his hand to the noisy man.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Shambless. I'm Eduardo. We waited for you and your party as long as we could. We have reservations for dinner and we need to leave on time." Our host was slender and dapper in dark slacks and a starched white shirt. The shouter, by contrast, looked like an unmade bed.
"I'm filming this whole trip on your crowded little train for my TV show. I'd have thought you'd have the decency to wait for me and my crew before you ran off to the restaurant. They'll wait for us. They can't buy publicity like my show will give them. And neither can you." He waved a pudgy finger in Eduardo's face as if he were not the center of attention already.
"We are indeed grateful that you chose our trip, Mr. Shambless," Eduardo said. I cringed watching this nice man having to apologize to this creep. "I regret any confusion I may have caused. Please join us on the bus and tell me what I can do to help you."
"Just stay out of my way unless I need you," Shambless said, motioning to his cameraman and a pretty young woman with long, straight blond hair and a V-necked blouse that showed off her incredible breasts every time she bent over, which was often.
I remembered why I disliked this man. Dick Shambless was a television talk show host who enthralled whole sections of the country every day with his anti-gay, anti-government, anti-everything rantings. Why did he have to come on this trip?
One of the women sitting near us stood up and pulled the man sitting next to her to a seat in the back of the coach. I heard her say, "I don't want to talk to him," as she moved to the last row.
"Just ignore him, Sylvia," the man said, following her down the aisle with a camera bag over his shoulder. "You don't have to be afraid of him anymore."
I nudged my friend Mary Louise, who was leafing through a brochure about local attractions.
"Did you see the look on that woman's face when she heard Shambless's voice?" I whispered to her.
She looked up, concern in her lovely blue eyes. "She seemed—, I don't know,—angry? Scared? What was it?"
"Well, she certainly wasn't happy to see him."
The talk show host lurched onto the bus, heaving his vast weight into the front seat, without a "hello" or "how are you" to anybody around him. The cameraman stood in the front of the bus and filmed Shambless, and then swung the camera around to include the rest of us.
Eduardo leaned over closer to Shambless, and said, "You might want to include our beautiful dancers who are going to entertain us on this trip. Our Happy Hoofers."
"Happy Hookers?" Shambless said. "Why would I want to include a bunch of hookers?"
"No, no," Eduardo said, embarrassed, looking at us apologetically. "They're dancers and we are really lucky to have them."
"Tell them to stand up," Shambless said. "Let me get a look at these babes."
Eduardo asked each of us to stand. We reluctantly got to our feet as he introduced us individually. I was ready to slug Shambless, but I felt sorry for Eduardo, so I smiled into the camera when he said, "This is Gini Miller, award-winning filmmaker and dancer extraordinaire."
Eduardo asked Tina to stand next. "And this is Tina Powell, magazine editor and leader of the dancers."
Shambless snorted when Eduardo motioned to Janice to stand. "Janice Rogers, actress and director," Eduardo said.
"You sure that's hoofers with an f?" Shambless said.
I was about to punch his lights out when the man with Sylvia called out, "Janice! Janice Rogers. I didn't know you were on this trip."
He pushed his way up the aisle to hug her.
"Janice Rogers," he said. "I don't believe you're here. It's so good to see you again. How are you? Are you still acting?"
Janice pulled away to look at him.
"Tom Carson," she said. "It must be ten years since we were in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in New York. How are you? Are you still acting?"
"If you can call it that. I'm in a soap opera. I haven't been in anything on the stage in years."
"Listen, there's nothing wrong with soaps. It's still acting. Which one are you in?"
"Love in the Afternoon," he said. "Have you ever seen it?"
"I have, actually," she said. "In fact, it's really good. I got hooked on it one year when I didn't have an acting job and was just sitting around waiting for the phone to ring."
"I can't believe you ever sat around waiting for a part," Tom said. "You're a terrific actress."
"Can we get on with this?" Shambless said impatiently. "You can sleep with her later."
I would have killed him right then and there, but Tom said, "Let's catch up at dinner, Jan." Then he went back to his seat.
Eduardo introduced Pat as a family therapist and Mary Louise as "the mother of three," and the cameraman finished filming us.
As the bus started, the nicely stacked blonde sat down next to Shambless and turned on a tape recorder. He started to talk into it when a petite woman behind him leaned over his seat, and said, "Oh, Mr. Shambless, I'm one of your biggest fans. I watch you every day and I thank God for all you do to protect our country. You're a national treasure."
He turned to her with a forced smile, and said, "God bless you. I'd be nothing without loyal fans like you." He patted her hand. I felt like I was going to be sick, but I swallowed my bile and muttered to Pat sitting in front of me, "What is he doing here? He'll ruin the whole trip."
Pat turned around to say to me in a low voice, "We don't have to talk to him. In fact, please keep me from saying anything to him. He's a Neanderthal. He hates everything—intelligent women, gays, the president, social welfare programs—everything. I can never understand why so many people listen to him."
"I don't get that either," I said. "The few times I've heard him when I surf through the channels, I just wanted to strangle him."
"You'd make a lot of people happy if you did. Anyway, try to relax. Just ignore him and enjoy the ride."
"You're right, Pat, but it won't be easy."
On the way to the restaurant, our guide, a young Spanish woman named Rafaela, stood up and picked up a microphone to give us a brief history of this part of Spain, or Green Spain, as the northern section is called.
"Our train follows the five-hundred-mile route that pilgrims take from San Sebastian in the east to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela in the west where the bones of St. James are buried—only we're going in the opposite direction. The legend is that St. James's body was brought from Jerusalem to Santiago de Compostela and buried in a field. Then nine hundred years later, someone found the bones and the cathedral was built around them. Pilgrims make the long journey to see them and are given a free room and meals when they arrive. If they make the pilgrimage when St. James Day falls on a Sunday, it's a holy year and all their sins are forgiven forever. They go directly to heaven."
"What a load of baloney," Shambless said. "You'd have to be a real idiot to believe that stuff. How far is this restaurant anyway? I'm starving."
The whole coach fell into a silence so hostile you could touch it.
Rafaela looked at him, her dark eyes reflecting the anger most people in the bus were feeling. With admirable restraint, she said, "It's only a short distance. In fact, you can see it up the road there on the right."
I stood up to peer out the front window of the coach and saw a startlingly white stucco hacienda, surrounded by brilliant red oleander flowers, which were even more beautiful against the stark restaurant walls. The September sun glinted off the sparkling windows. I could see a sign that read, BIENVENIDOS EL GUSTO DEL MAR, which I think means "Welcome to the Taste of the Sea." My Spanish isn't all that great.
When the bus pulled up to the gleaming white restaurant, Eduardo got off to shake hands with the owner, who was waiting to greet us. He was tall and handsome in the way that only Spanish men are—with that look in their eyes that says, "You cannot resist me."
"Ladies and gentlemen," Eduardo said, "I am pleased to introduce you to Señor Delgardo, the owner of El Gusto del Mar, this excellent restaurant."
Señor Delgardo smiled and held out his hand to Shambless, who was the first one to clamber out of the bus. The cameraman took pictures of the restaurant and the other buildings nearby.
The blonde ignored the rest of us and put her arm through the talk show host's arm.
"Bienvenido, señor," Señor Delgardo said to him as he got off the bus. Shambless just grunted and pushed past him into the restaurant.
The rest of us tried to make up for his rudeness by shaking hands with the owner and telling him how much we were looking forward to dining in his restaurant. He worked at being gracious, but it was obvious that he felt insulted by Shambless's boorishness. Somehow, we were all crass Americans because of the thoughtlessness of the talk show host.
As we got off the bus, I noticed that Sylvia put her hand on her companion's arm to restrain him. I heard him say, "Don't be silly, Sylvia. It was a long time ago. Come on. You don't have to talk to him."
She followed him reluctantly into the restaurant.
Rafaela ushered us into a gleaming dark wood bar with a magnificent view of the beach and the Cantabrian Sea through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The white damask-covered tables were set with gleaming silver, crystal wine glasses, red and pink roses, and white candles. Most of the tables were reserved for our group of fifty passengers.
Shambless, still loud and obnoxious, sat down at a table for four and waved away other people who tried to sit with him, except for the blonde and the cameraman. "This is my vacation. I talk to people all year long. I don't want to bother with anybody while I'm eating," he said to Señor Delgardo when he tried to seat some of the passengers at his table.
The blonde whispered something in his ear and he smiled into the camera.
"Edit that out," he said to the camera operator. His voice changed into a mellow, pleasing baritone. "What a pleasure it is to be here in sunny Spain ... what is it, Julie?"
She said something to him and he continued, even more mellifluously than before. "Or, I should say rainy Spain," he said, a slight chuckle in his voice, "because it's the rain here in northern Spain that makes this Green Spain, a lush and beautiful place to see. I want to take you with me on this trip through picturesque fishing villages, to ninth-century monuments, to the Guggenheim museum. We'll climb mountains, watch the ocean splash on the shore, visit historic caves." He paused and smiled into the camera. "I'm so glad you're here with me on this fascinating journey."
He motioned to the cameraman to stop. "That's it for now, Steve," he said in his regular, ordinary, bossy voice. "Get some shots of the restaurant and the town around here."
He turned to Julie. "How was I, honey?"
She took his hand.
"Superb, as always."
He pulled his hand away and tore off a piece of bread from the basket on the table.
Our group was at the table next to his. We did our best to ignore him.
He looked up as the woman who was trying to avoid him and Tom, her companion, passed his table.
"Well," he said loudly. "It's been a long time, Sylvia. How's your life going? Still with that soap opera? Lust in the Afternoon, isn't it?"
Sylvia stiffened, stopped and looked at him with such hatred we could feel its heat, and then walked past him to a table as far from his as she could find. Tom glared at the talk show host and followed her to the back of the room.
"I wonder what that's all about?" Tina said.
Janice leaned forward, and in a low voice said, "Tom's a great guy. We were in a play together in New York a few years ago." She paused for a minute, a dreamy look on her face. "We had a little thing going for a while," she said. "Anyway, I heard that he married the producer of Shambless's talk show, a woman named Sylvia something or other. I don't know what happened exactly, but she left or was fired. I heard rumors that Shambless had her fired because she wouldn't sleep with him, and then kept her from being hired as a producer on other talk shows. That's how she ended up producing a soap opera. She hired Tom and I guess that's when they fell in love and got married. I had no idea he was on this trip."
"Hmm," I said. "Shambless makes friends wherever he goes."
We laughed and looked at Rafaela, who was about to tell us our dinner choices.
"Since this part of Spain is famous for its incredibly fresh seafood," she said, "the owner of this restaurant has selected the most delicate and delicious dishes." She translated the menu for us.
"Everything is superb here," she said. "You can have cigalas cocidas, which is boiled crayfish with lemon wedges. The crayfish is so fresh it almost sings in your mouth."
"Oh, great," Shambless growled. "That's all I need—singing fish. I just want a steak, medium rare, with French fries. And a bottle of red wine, if they have any good wine in Spain. Think you can manage that?"
Señor Delgardo, who was standing nearby, looked at Rafaela. They didn't say anything, but their feelings about this man were unmistakable.
Obviously exerting a great effort to keep his voice pleasant, the owner said, "Señor Shambless, we are noted for our seafood. Try our vieiras al horno, which is—"
"Some kind of horny fish," Shambless said, snickering and looking at his fan at the next table, who giggled.
"As I said before," he said. "All I want is a steak. It's simple. A steak. Medium rare. With French fries. And ketchup."
Steve, the guy with the camera, leaned over Shambless and whispered something in his ear.
"Oh ... yeah ... good point. Wait a sec, Delgardo.
Bring me one of your fish dishes with all the trimmings so Steve can film it for the documentary.
And then bring me the steak."
Señor Delgardo turned abruptly and went into the kitchen.
Rafaela tried to pretend she hadn't heard all this and continued talking to the rest of us.
"As Señor Delgardo was saying, vieiras al horno is baked scallops. Again, very simple. Scallops made with onions, garlic, paprika, sprinkled with bread crumbs, fried, and then put in the oven briefly to brown the crumbs. They are fresh, fresh, fresh."
"Oh, blah, blah, blah," said Shambless. "Can you be more boring? I don't care what's on the friggin' menu. Bring it. Let Steve get a picture of it and then bring me my steak, if you can manage such a complicated order. "
I'd had enough. "Well, we care, Shambless," I said. "So stuff a sock in it until your steak comes."
He turned slowly and looked me up and down, and then around the table at the rest of us.
"Ah, the dancing lesbians, I presume," he said, loudly enough for everyone in the restaurant to hear.
Tina put her hand on my arm, but I'd had enough. I jumped up and confronted him.
"Ah, the impotent talk show host, I presume," I said. I know it wasn't devastating and brilliant, but it was all I could think of at the moment.
"Gini, let it go," Pat said, pulling me back into my seat.
I sat back down, shaking, and looked at Rafaela, who rolled her eyes and told us the rest of our choices.
There was salpicón, a seafood salad, calamari a la plancha, a very spicy squid dish made with lots of hot red pepper flakes, and bogavante a la gallega, which I ordered after finding out it was lobster and potatoes.
Each of us chose a different main course so we could trade bites to taste a variety of the tempting dishes on the menu. We were enjoying every mouthful and trying not to hear Shambless only a few feet away complaining to the chef, who had left the kitchen to find out what was wrong. Shambless complained that his steak was thin and overcooked and inedible.
"It tastes like horsemeat," he said.
This was too much for the chef, a red-faced, portly man, who looked like he would explode. He was about to say something, but the owner quickly led him back to the kitchen and then returned to say to Shambless, "Seafood is the specialty in this part of Spain, señor. Just try these scallops. I think you'll like them."
Excerpted from Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities by Mary McHugh. Copyright © 2015 Mary McHugh. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was disappointed in this "mystery." It really is not well written. I pegged the murderer the first time that character made an appearance. Way too many red herrings. And too many poorly developed subplots with very little character development to support them. Perhaps the author had set a page limit for the book and had to wrap all that up in a hurry in the last chapter. Unfortunately the recipes were the best part of the book. Otherwise it seemed to me the author wrote this book as means of showing how open minded/politically correct she is
I wasn't sure what exactly to expect with McHugh's Happy Hoofers since this is the first book that I have read in the series, but I have to say that what McHugh delivered was an absolutely enjoyable read. Tina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise, and Gini were all such likable characters, and I found myself caught up in all of their lives as they traveled through Spain. I really enjoyed these five wonderful friends and I was sad to see the story end because I wanted to continue reading about their adventures. As a mystery Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities proved to be a very good one full of many twists and turns as well as suspects. I really liked how McHugh kept the mystery and action going amongst all the drama surrounding the five main characters. I already went and purchased the first book in the series to catch up, and I can't wait to read the next book in the series. Overall this book was a great read that I would definitely recommend. Received a copy of Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is a fun mystery book to read. It was very enjoyable.
4 stars In this Happy Hoofers Mystery the main character is Gini Miller. She is the teller which just having read right before was the first Happy Hoofers and the teller was Tina. It was a little confusing. The story had more fun with dancing, more murder, great sights on a train ride in Green Spain, more romance and still a clean read. The Happy Hoofers are Gini award-winning filmmaker. Tina Powell magazine editor and leader of the dancers. Janice Rogers actress and director, Pat a family therapist, Mary Louise mother of three. They are all in there 50's they tap dance and look good. They were asked to dance on this train as entertainers. I admit at times it was hard for me to keep track of which dancer likes who. There are a lot of characters. Dick Shambless is a television talk show host in the US. He has arranged to televise this train ride trip. He starts off right away making enemies. He believes he alone is special and does not care of who he makes wait for him. He is rude, brash. Gini for one talks about killing him. Gini gets attacked in this adventure. I don't know if I would want to be a Happy Hoofer with someone attacking at least one of them each time they travel to dance and having murders happening around them. The setting is Green Spain. The train follows five-hundred-mile route that pilgrims take from San Sebastian in the east to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela in the west where the bones of St. James are buried. Gini gives photography tips throughout the book at the end of chapters. There is a lot of good food they eat and are always getting recipes. They are scattered in the book at the end of chapters to. I think it would be easier to have all the recipes together at the back of the book. So they would easier to find. But I read the next adventure they go on to France. I was given this ebook to read by Net Galley and Kensington Books. In return I agreed to give a honest review and be part of Flamenco, Flan and Fatalities book tour.
Dollycas’s Thoughts Gini narrates this time and she a force to be reckoned with. She has a hard time holding her tongue and that lands her on the suspect list. I like these stories because these woman are my age and I wish I could be traveling right along with them. I am mystery fan so even the dead bodies wouldn’t both me too much….yeah right…well I would hope I could help them sleuth out the killer. Set on a train traveling through Green Spain sounds just spectacular except when a murder means the passengers are stuck on the train instead of seeing the sights. The Happy Hoofers have made friends with certain people though that allows them to travel to some local tourist attractions and restaurants, but they are usually quick secret excursions. This is basically a closed mystery meaning the killer has to be someone on the train even though it makes several stops. Even in the close quarters these ladies find a way to snoop and eavesdropping is pretty easy with everyone so close together. There are more than a few twists before the true culprit is revealed and I was thrilled that I was on the right track. I did enjoy the disabled passenger on the train. Their experience mirrored mine about life in a wheelchair and they offered some great insight. Mary McHugh has penned a very humorous mystery with a key emphasis on friendship. There is a bit of romance too. Love always seems to bloom when people travel. The recipes are great too! This can be read as a stand alone but recommend starting at the beginning with Chorus Lines, Caviar, and Corpses. They are quick entertaining reads and a great way to spend an afternoon. We don’t have long to wait for our next vacation with the Happy Hoofers. We head to France with Cancans, Croissants, and Caskets August 25.
Happy Hoofers Mystery 2: Flamenco, Flan & Fatalities I'm totally on a middle ground when it comes to this book. I did not love it, I did not hate it - in fact, I liked the story - I just didn't realize that I did until I was about 70% in, and the story ends around 83%. I love a good mystery and the book description on this one really caught my eye. It was very misleading, though. At no point in the story is Gini considered "suspect numero uno." It is joked around about, the detective does question her (he questions everyone on the train), but it's all very light hearted when it comes to her - and the other dancers - as if they could never do anything wrong, and everyone trusts them immensely. It is slow-going at the beginning and there were questions that kept popping into my head: How old are they? I haven't read the first book, two of the ladies have been married for awhile with children, but it isn't until I read the book description for the next book (at the end of this story there is information on the next book, as well as an excerpt) that I found out they were 50+. Why is an American dance troupe doing Flamenco dancing during a tour of Spain? This was a big one that bothered me. I felt like them doing it in the first place was rather disrespectful. And the detective even acts quite disgusted about the whole idea. Their second and third dance were both "American" - the second being to the song "New York, New York" - which sounded more like something you would expect. What does the story have to do with the title? This one was mainly because of a mystery my mother read a couple of weeks ago that had the word flan in the title, and in that book it wasn't until the last chapter that flan was even spoken of, and just in passing. I wanted to see how flan became a big part of this story, so big that it was in the title - that's big. Like, was someone going to die from eating poisoned flan??!!??!! (No, that didn't happen. The death had nothing to do with flan.) After we hit the first restaurant, the story starts picking up, and as with any good mystery, you have a list going in your head of who was going to be murdered - and who did it. There were things that I didn't expect, suspects that I wouldn't have guessed, and the murderer was not even on my list of possibilities. The last chapter was a summation of where everybody's life went after this trip (well, between this one and the next book), answering some of the questions that hadn't been completely answered, and I plan on reading the next book because it sounds interesting and I'm curious to see what kind of trouble these gals get into next. I especially liked the descriptions of the scenery and the places they visited, including the restaurants, and that there were recipes for some of the things that they tried along the way. For your photo buffs, each chapter ends with a photography tip - most of them I already knew, but there were a couple that I took note of. I guess my main problem with the book was that there were ... lots of problems. (I am going to try very hard not to give away too much information beyond this point - I would hate to ruin the story for anyone - but I am pointing out some of the problems I had. You have been warned.) The book is written in first person, us being in Gini's mind. She is very proud of saying everything that pops into her head, as if this is a good thing, and is always pointing out that she can't help her self, hold back her sarcasm, or keep her mouth shut. And it is not just in what she says to other characters. It often felt like I was stuck in the mind of a dog whose mind gets sidetracked by a squirrel. She was all over the place sometimes, rambling off onto a subject, which ended up veering way off into left field, and taking away from the story at hand. There were lots of side stories that did the same thing. Sometimes it really felt like the mystery was the actual side story. Especially at the end. There was no real understanding of how exactly the murder did it - just a big event that made you feel like the person was guilty, which ended rather easily, then Gini's hypothesis when they key players discussed it back on the train. In the final chapter, she does mention going back to Spain for the trial. And her excuses for being rude weren't the only repetitive things - the one sticking out most was that it was pointed out at least five times that there were four different languages (Spanish, German, English and Norwegian) being spoken on the train at any given time. We get it, and it really doesn't need to be told to us every time all the passengers are in one room. Things didn't exactly add up: For example, why did Eduardo and Javier (the detective) trust these five ladies so much? They both went to them at different times with information (including right after the murder when Eduardo told only the dancers about the murder). And, on that trust note, why did the dancers trust some people, but not others, when a lot of people had motives and opportunities. It was like, without evidence, they were sure this person, that person, those people over there COULD have done it, when the same thing could have been said about Gigi herself. Another example, why was there this "lie" hanging around about when the murder took place? Eduardo told them BEFORE they went out to do their first dance, yet when the police were questioning them, everyone acted as if it happened in the middle of the night, including one of the dancers who said, "She certainly didn't get up in the middle of the night and kill anyone. I would have noticed." Several pages later, one of them confesses to the police that they already knew and that it had actually happened earlier. (People lie when they are covering things up and this seemed like a false clue.) The Spanish in at least one place is wrong i.e. "Por favor" is not a reply to "Muchas gracias." I didn't really find the five dancers likable. Not until closer to the end. Janice is the one I disliked the most ... and it's the author's fault. Here's an example: "Javier could not take his eyes off Janice. You could tell he was trying to suppress his feelings, without any luck. He was hooked. Janice was so beautiful. Her face, which was always lovely, was glowing, slightly rosy, after the dance. She pushed back her hair, now curly and untamed. She looked so sexy, I knew Javier couldn't resist." This is one of many times Gini talks about how gorgeous this girl is. She is so beautiful, no man can resist her, blah blah blah blah blah *barf* (I really do get tired of the "perfect" woman. Hasn't that character been overwritten? I couldn't help but roll my eyes whenever she came on the page.) Of course, they know each other for two days, and are in love, wanting to spend every moment together - time he should have been spending investigating the murder, and she seemed very sulky when he was away. And Javier is not the only man who is smitten with her. The one I disliked almost as much as her was Mary Louise, which bothered me because I had actually liked her in the beginning - she really came off as very sweet. She is a married woman, but also falls in love after two days, with a man who is still grieving over the loss of his wife, a woman that she reminds him a lot of. Pat came off as the "token" gay woman. It's not mentioned at first, and is really none of our business, but all of a sudden she falls in love, too - with a woman that I don't think should have been trusted as quickly as they did her. That leaves us with Tina, who I actually did like. She stayed out of drama, was very helpful and caring, and did her best to try to keep the rest of them corralled, though her job shouldn't have been to babysit the others. The characters I liked the most were the side characters, people I wanted to know more about. Mark and Sam, Geoffrey and Danielle - they seemed like great people. I liked Eduardo and the bartender as well. My favorites, though, were Jonathan and Hawkeye - probably the most thought-out and interesting characters I have read about in a long time (and I liked how each character dealt with the two of them). I also liked Geoffrey and Danielle's daughter Michele. I always try to point out the things that I like and don't like - for the author and for potential readers - and I would suggest that the author find an editor to do a thorough go-through. (She is more than welcome to contact me - I know several good ones.) These were just some of the problems I found. The book has a lot of potential and these things take away from what is a good story. Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Please remember that this review is my opinion based on my own personal impressions of the book.
The Happy Hoofers are back in another exciting mystery. This time they are dancing their way on a train through northern Spain and, once again, they are tossed right into the middle of a murder. One of the guests on the train is an obnoxious talk show host who is using the trip as an opportunity to film a documentary. In a short time, he has managed to make more enemies than fans. One of the Happy Hoofers, Gini, manages to get into a fight with the talk show host and threatens to kill him. Naturally when he’s found dead, she’s the prime suspect. Gini has no intentions of sitting around waiting to be arrested. Instead, she throws herself into the middle of the investigation and finds her own life is on the line. I love this group of five fifty-something women. They not only dance together, but are best friends as well. Each book in this series is told in the first person and each Hoofer narrates her own story. The first was narrated by Tina. This one is narrated by Gini. Gini is a tough woman, but also has a few vulnerabilities. She doesn’t hesitate to eavesdrop or put herself in danger to get the information she needs. She, also, pays no attention to the warnings of the chief investigator to mind her own business. She made me laugh as she says whatever is on her mind – no holds barred. The main thing that attracted me to this series is the age of the main characters as well as the opportunity to travel the world with them. The book doesn’t get too bogged down with travel details, but it’s just enough to give the reader the feeling they are there as well. Talk about transporting the reader – I felt as if I were in Spain for the last few days. With each book, I learned more and more about the main five characters and I absolutely can’t wait to read the next book and see what they are up to next. FTC Disclosure: The author and NetGalley provided me with a copy of this book to review for this blog tour. This did not influence my thoughts and opinions in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities by Mary McHugh is fun cozy mystery. It is the second book in the Happy Hoofers mystery series. The Happy Hoofers have been asked to perform on a luxury train that is traveling across Northern Spain. Chorus Lines, Caviar, and Corpses was told from Tina Powell’s (the leader of the group) point-of-view. Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities is told from Gini Miller’s point-of-view. Gini is a documentary filmmaker. Gini is still seeing Alex and Alex has relocated to New York (still working at the NY Times). Mary Louise is looking forward to getting away from her husband. Mary Louise is married to George, an attorney. George has been too wrapped up in his cases lately and not paying enough attention to his wife. Pat, the therapist, and Janice, the actress, are also looking forward to the trip and maybe even a little romance. The Hoofers are looking forward to the trip until they see Dick Shambless. He is a television talk show host who is anti-everything. Dick is also very rude and obnoxious. There is only person on the trip who is a fan. Dora Lindquist comes up to Dick right away to get his autograph. Not long after the train starts the trip Mr. Shambless is found dead. While exploring the Spanish countryside, the Happy Hoofers dance and try to figure out who killed Dick Shambless. Whoever killed Dick Shambless does not want to be discovered and will do what it takes to keep from being found out. The Hoofers get to eat some good food on the trip and meet some new friends. Mary Louise makes sure to collect recipes for all the wonderful dishes. At the beginning of each chapter you get tips on taking pictures while on vacation. Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities is a charming cozy mystery. It has delightful characters and the book is easy to read. The mystery, though, was very, very easy to solve. If you follow the clues, you can solve the mystery very quickly. The story is told in first person, but I did not even notice it after getting into the story. I give Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities 4 out of 5 stars. I look forward to the next Happy Hoofers mystery (which will be out in the August). I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Great Cozy Mystery! This is a great cozy mystery! This is the second book in the Happy Hoofers Mystery series by Mary McHugh. The Happy Hoofers, Tina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise, and Gini are booked on a luxury train ride through Northern Spain. When the “blowhole” talk show host is found dead, then they put their sleuthing skills to the test. They are determined to find the killer before someone else gets killed. This book is a great mystery with humor. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series. I highly recommend this series. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.