MURDER PACKS A SUITCASE
This cozy by the author of the Reigning Cats and Dogs series starts with an interesting premise. A travel writer for a
New York magazine gets to investigate Florida -- not the land of Disney but the remains of the old Florida of the 1960s and '70s. The book includes sites where it's still possible to visit places that combine the kitsch and tacky charm of that era. The result is a very mild mystery, sympathetic characters and a somewhat uneasy blend of travel guide and story. Although not a great mystery, the look at a Florida not often seen is entertaining.
Widowed and left with two college-age children, Mallory Marlowe takes a job as a travel writer. She looks forward to finding the Florida she recalls from trips as a child -- that of plastic flamingos, ice cream-shaped buildings and alligators. Then she finds the body of a fellow writer in the waterfall of the dining room of the Polynesian Princess Hotel -- and becomes the chief suspect. She eliminates suspects one by one until the exciting end. (BANTAM, Nov., 304 pp., $6.99)