Flashing back to different time periods gives readers the ability to feel as if they are there with the characters as the authors take us to the 1920’s where land was not as costly as it is today and where there people who are elderly, feisty and enjoy their own form of antics will keep readers amused, wondering where they will wind up at the end of the story. Land companies have what you would call know showings or open houses but back them land was sold by companies that would host people for an entire weekend. Almost like buying a villa or time share now but when you read about this weekend everyone will wish they treated guests and potential landowners the same way in the present. Companies would entertain and feed their potential clients and even make sure they arranged for great accommodations hoping to sell lots of land or even arrange an investment into the new area that was being built. So, what happens when three seniors, two related one Uncle Percival and niece Cornelia Pettijohn along with a man named Theodore Lawless decide to become part of this fun weekend? But, what would the fun be without a murder and traveling in close quarters in a car, getting stranded, luckily a land agent stopped for them as their car need a part ordered, they had to ride the Mullet Express to where they would have an unusually different weekend. So, take along you will love the wild ride! Now, I know this is not the New York Subway system but in the realm of people not getting along, they managed to see and witness a fight between two men. One was not so badly hurt while the other looked like death warmed over on the trip. Cornelia and Theodore or Teddy were nurses during the war and using their skills and of course being curious, they watch this man closely on the trip hoping he won’t fall prey to a serious illness. But, he dies and now the fun starts as Cornelia plays the role of Agatha Christie or Ms. Marple and tries to solve the murder. Sleuthing is her thing and drinking her friend, Teddy’s. While Uncle Percival is glued to his camera since retiring from his job as a civil engineering professor turned filmmaker he hopes. Wanting to make a motion picture his first film would be a record of their entire trip. So, did he catch the murderer? Smart, astute, not at all senile and forgets nothing, he is like a little kid who finds his way into different situations without worrying about what will happen to him next. After the murder is revealed why would Uncle Percival remain stable in the hotel as directed by the police? While her uncle is out and about with his camera and placed in jail in order to keep in tow, the two nurses and a doctor try to perform surgery on one of the men in the fight. But, the end result is murder or an unusual kind. Listening to the police they learned that someone was killed on the Mullet Express and his body was stuffed somewhere. The mob looks like they made the hit but someone was also interested in Percival and what he does and creates to make sure no one gets into his room is short of a Lucy and Ethel stunt. But, things get out of control each time Teddy attends a party, gets drunk and then the murders take center stage.
The town is Homosassa and the murders increase as a group of mobsters decide to take hold of someone that crossed their boss and tried to pin it on Percival.
But, when Percival is placed in jail for too long because they think he might have killed or poisoned Mr. Janzen, Cornelia gets up in arms and she begins to question all of the guests in the hotel, insists on taking part in the investigation and all chaos breaks out. Placed in several different jails Cornelia insists on going to Crystal Rive City Jail to bring her Uncle what he might need and to remind the police that a couple of thugs wanted his film. Added in the deputy is involved in an inadvertent way when the truth about his past comes out and it reflects upon the murdered victim. He was also worried that Cornelia and Teddy would get involved and hurt by the two mobs that are trying to expand into Citrus County. But, at times the Sheriff seems to be caught up in his own thick mind and does not see the light at the end of the rainbow when it comes to the Professor. The goons want the movie because he got the fight on film and who know what else it might reveal. Added in Peter Rowley the agent has a past related to the deputy as he relates his time in the army and the Dear John letter he receives from his fiancé that so many others too. The slapstick humor is hilarious and the interactions among the characters falling over themselves at times to solve this case is hilarious as is Teddy’s fashion parade and how she has to be coordinated at all times. Tiny, Cesare and Leo are the mobsters but will they get caught for what they did. Using Mitch, their driver but really a reporter undercover, the girls try and handle the investigation on their own. Peter Rowley and several members of the hotel staff helped to prepare a special birthday celebration for Percival. But, someone wanted the film, someone broke into Percival’s room and the police do not seem interested to investigate it. Mr. Janzen did not swear out a complaint against the man he had a fight with, Mr. Hofstetter. Mrs. Minyard relates a story about her son Alfred and who won’t believe how that fits into the murder. Added in they found the savin or poison that was given to Janzen and you won’t believe who and why? Rosemary Carson tells her story to Cornelia but something does not ring true. Did her sister really die of the Spanish Flu? What is the hidden truth? The only way you will learn who committed the murder on the Mullet Express is if you join the ladies, Percival, Sheriff, the projectionist and others and watch his black and white film to see what is revealed.
A new movie camera and what is shows is at the heart of this novel and dealing with two wild ladies that are relentless, a man who reached 75 several times but whose mind is lucid, clear and remembers everything and everyone, take the ride on the Mullet Express, watch out for the food, you never know what’s in it and join Cornelia as she tries to find out not only who murdered Mr. Janzen but the mobster too. Friendships, loyalties, deceits, betrayals, persistence, deceptions and just plain out Agatha Christie detective work, this novel will keep you going until the final reveal and make sure that you are ready for all the juice, coffee and food that they serve at each of the stops when you decide whether you too want to buy a piece of land from Peter Rowley and remember you might have to ride THE MULLET EXPRESS! I am sure that authors Gwen Mayo and Sarah E. Glenn along with Cornelia and Teddy are planning their next adventure.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine