Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Coral Princess Murders: Review

In The Coral Princess Murders, Frances Crane's husband and wife team, Pat & Jean Abbott are off to exotic Tangier where odd characters, strange events, drugs, smuggling and murder will play havoc with their vacation plans. Tangier plays host to Americans (Pat & Jean as well as a Mary Kay-like mistress of cosmetics and an American reporter), a White Russian prince (married to the cosmetics queen), a Belgian detective (no, not that one), a jet-setting underworld character or two, and, of course, the Tangier police. 

The Abbotts are invited into the intrigue when Linda Varna (aka the Coral Princess), purveyor of beauty products, consults Pat about her missing lover, Nick Gannaway. But Nick soon reappears and it becomes clear that there is more to the drama than the Abbotts may think. An decidedly slimy little man by the name of Hugo Poole alternately tries to worm information out of them and drag them into what looks like a drug-smuggling operation before someone decides that he is meddling where he doesn't belong. Poole disappears...well, all him but his hand which is found on the beach near shark-infested waters. 

It is assumed that someone threw him to the sharks and left the hand as a warning. And, most inconveniently, the Abbotts are the last people known to be with him before he vanished. The Belgian detective who represents the Tangier police takes great interest in Pat and Jean and their relationship to our prime characters--so great that they feel they must get to the bottom of the mystery to prove their innocence. It is also their task to keep as many of these others unharmed as possible until they can discover who is involved in the dope trade and how. It all wraps up nicely in a ramshackle little house in the Kasbah and a heroic save by Pat.

This one was not quite as fun and enticing as the previous Pat and Jean Abbot book I read (The Yellow Violet, last February). Perhaps it was the drug-trafficking. Perhaps it was the fact that I didn't have much sympathy for any of the characters--save one whose brother winds up killed. Perhaps it was the slightly disjointed feel to everyone's conversation. It read as if all the characters were speaking to each other in a secret short-hand language that was never properly explained to the reader. I still enjoyed the characters of Pat and Jean, but I found them much more engaging on their home turf in the States. Three stars--a nice solid read, but not spectacular.

Challenges fulfilled: Vintage Mystery Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Bookish TBR, Around the World, Monthly Key Word, Color Coded Challenge, Century of Books, Outdo Yourself, How Many Books, My Kind of Mystery, 100 Plus Challenge, What's in a Name, Women Challenge, Cruisin' Thru the Cozies

This fulfills the "Set Anywhere but the U.S./England" square on the Golden Vintage Bingo card.


fredamans said...

I don't think the drug-trafficking would put me off if done right.
Great review!

Charlie (The Worm Hole) said...

Is there a next book? If so I hope you enjoy it more :) Well done on What's In A Name!