Meg Langslow gets on board a cruise ship bound for Bermuda with her grandfather, the famous biologist Dr. Blake, and 14 other members of her family and friends in Terns of Endearment by Donna Andrews. The cruise line Pastime shows a degree of poor customer service from the start, but the cruise still gets off to a smooth start. As Michael and the twins play miniature golf outside, Meg goes to the lounge, where she meets four delightful women on a writer’s retreat that also is serving as a memorial cruise to honor Nancy, the fifth member of their group, who committed suicide five months earlier. The writers are horrified to discover that they have been joined on the cruise by Desiree St. Christophe, a has-been romance writer whom the writers blame for having triggered Nancy’s suicide.
Then, at 4:30 in the morning, Meg awakens to find the ship still, with the power out, and goes on board the deck to see what has happened. Finding nothing but a still sea in every direction she looks, Meg goes back to her room. But in the later morning, with the ship’s still remaining without power, no one can use any lights, run any water, or even flush the toilets. The captain remains hidden from the passengers, but the first officer gives useless platitudes to everyone before a crew member comes running into the room with the news that someone has gone overboard. Meg follows in their wake to see the expensive shoes and scarf of Desiree, along with a suicide note, next to the side of the fourth deck. She manages to snap some pictures before the captain picks up the items and cleans up the scene. Mystery writer Angie joins Meg’s father, the medical examiner, and cousin Horace, the crime scene technician, in determining to investigate in the chance that Desiree did not go overboard willingly.
As the ship remains still, things deteriorate on board, with the crew members disappearing at every opportunity, leaving the passengers to fend for themselves. As Meg begins to investigate suspicious happenings, this cruise turns into the cruise from hell, requiring the passengers to take back their power and the ship.
I had high hopes for Terns of Endearment, and I was not disappointed in the least by this delightfully fun book. The cruise created a fun setting for a locked- room mystery, though it did cause some of my favorite characters from Caerphilly to be left out of the book. However, the sea setting allows for crazy antics that we wouldn’t see on land. One of the strengths of Andrews’s books is the depth of her characters, which then sets up opportunities for incredibly humorous situations. I especially liked the four authors, each of whom has a fully fleshed out personality and unique style of books. For example, Angie allows Meg’s father and cousin Horace to show their crime-solving passion, while Janet allows Michael and the twin boys to show off their sword-fighting skills.
Another of Andrew’s strengths is the way the characters work together to solve their community problems. We see this trend build up in such books as Some Like It Hawk, Duck the Halls, and especially Lark, the Herald Angels Sing, but Terns of Endearment demonstrates this in a special way. The lesson of the value of teamwork inspires and adds exciting plot devices to the book.
The audio edition of Terns of Endearment is performed by Bernadette Dunne. I first experienced this book by reading an ARC (Advanced Review Copy) of the book and highly enjoyed it. But when I got an ARC of the audiobook to review for AudioFile Magazine, the book came alive so much more effectively than in the visual version. Dunne does a fantastic job of giving extra personality to each character and makes us experience the drama on the ocean in a unique way.
I greatly enjoy all of Donna Andrews’s books and have listened to each numerous times. Terns of Endearment will soon catch up with all the other books as one in which I will soon be quoting and citing. It is a delightful book that I highly recommend to all. I give the book five stars!
Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book in both print and audio, but that had no impact on the content of my review.
This book will be released in all formats on August 8, and you can preorder it here on Amazon.