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Amanda Pennyworth is looking forward to relaxing on Amapas Beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with her boyfriend, Romero Morelos. But all hopes of fun in the sun are dashed when she finds a woman bludgeoned to death (“Blood from a deep gash in her forehead covered her face like a mask and collected in a viscous dark puddle on the sandy soil next to her head”). The victim’s name is Danielle Maglin, and she, along with some of her friends, was on the same boat that took Amanda and Romero to the isolated beach. The person who committed the crime is most likely someone who was on the boat with Danielle—probably one of her pals. As Amanda helps the local police investigate, she finds out Danielle was both loved and hated by those around her. She was a magnetic woman with a complicated life. Her friends repeatedly describe Danielle as charming, popular, and beautiful but also a troublemaker who knew everyone’s secrets. One of the last people to see Danielle alive was her close friend Terry Blanchard, who is more than willing to point a finger at other guests on the boat trip. Sol and Marcie Spiegel, who desperately wanted the house Danielle bought, are strong suspects. Amanda returns to the United States and is invited by Blanchard to a dinner party with all the guests from the fateful cruise. As the murder suspects are gathered together, Blanchard questions each one and tensions run sky high. Soon, Amanda may have more on her plate than just one murder mystery. Gilbert deftly utilizes his skillful sleuth in this installment. This is a classic locked-room whodunit with a fun cast of characters who keep the plot unpredictable and intriguing. Amanda is an endearing protagonist who uses her keen eye to try to solve this intricate puzzle of greed and jealousy. The story’s two distinctive settings create a captivating contrast and shine a new light on the characters as they return home and grow comfortable—perhaps too comfortable. This volume will thrill fans and entertain newcomers to the series.

A clever whodunit with a smart, appealing detective.

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