I’d been escorting a tour group of local seniors through Helsinki, Finland, when my mom phoned to tell me that my hometown of Windsor City, Iowa, had been flattened by an F4 tornado. To make matters worse, the reception hall for my upcoming nuptials ended up in Minnesota, the church steeple in Dubuque, and my custom designed dress in a cornfield near Lars Bakke’s grain elevator.
To prevent me from suffering immediate cardiac arrest, my mom had offered to become my wedding planner, which spared my heart, but left me with agonizing heartburn. Hoping to save me from my mother, my grandmother and her cronies stunned me with a surprise wedding that took place aboard a Norwegian ship, on the high seas, just south of the Arctic Circle. I returned home with a new hyphenated last name, a new husband, and an impulse to build something wonderful out of the rubble.
The “wonderful” thing that we built is a dazzling steel and glass building that is home to “Destinations Travel” – a full service agency that offers domestic and international tour packages to active seniors. Our very own travel agency! Etienne and I run the whole show ourselves, so it’s here where I spend the majority of my days when I’m stateside.
My favorite part of our suite of rooms is the photo gallery, where I can give prospective clients a glimpse of some of my favorite tour destinations. There’s Lake Lucerne, where I’d hauled George Farkas’s wooden leg out of the drink, Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, where Bernice Zwerg got stranded in the rising tide, and Ballybantry Castle, where we were plagued by the resident ghost. There’s Florence’s leather market, where my hair caught fire, and the reindeer farm in Lapland, where I’d run across a dead body. There’s the Twelve Apostles geologic formation in Australia, where I’d discovered another dead body, and the Na Pali coast in Kauai, where our helicopter had been forced to make a hard landing because of the passenger in the back seat… whose sudden death had caused a critical shift in weight.
Our brochures don’t advertise the fact that all my escorted tours have included an endless cavalcade of dead of bodies, but my core group of travelers keep signing up for trips, despite my checkered reputation.
Today I’m going over the roster for our upcoming trip to Holland, checking medical history forms and reconfirming reservations. All my regulars are on board—Margi Swanson, a part-time nurse whose obsessive use of hand sanitizer has caused its stock price to soar on the Dow Jones market; Tilly Hovick, a retired anthropology professor with so much knowledge in her head that she doesn’t need to use Google as her homepage; Osmond Chelsvig, a veritable institution on the local board of elections, his very first vote having been cast on a stone tablet; the two Dicks –Teig and Stolee – a couple of practical jokers who are better friends with each other than they are with their wives; Alice Tjarks, the former voice of the KORN morning agricultural report, who is as unassuming as Bernice Zwerg is difficult; and Marion Sippel, my Nana, whose formal education ended at the eighth grade, but who, in spite of that, is the smartest person I know.
In Holland, we’ll be sharing a bus and tour director with a group from Maine who are celebrating their 50th class reunion. We’re scheduled to visit a windmill, a port town where residents still don authentic Dutch dress, the Rembrandt Museum, the Anne Frank House, the fairytale city of Bruge, Belgium, and the famous Atlantic Wall on the North Sea. Etienne assures me that my run of bad luck has come to a close and will never rear its ugly head again, and I’m determined to believe him. I mean, I have a brand new lease on life—a new business, a new husband, a new name, and a great new group from Maine to travel with.
Given all my new advantages, what could possibly go wrong?
You can read more about Emily in DUTCH ME DEADLY, the seventh book in the ”Passport to Peril” mystery series. The first book in the series is ALPINE FOR YOU.
** Thanks to Maddy, I have one (1) copy of DUTCH ME DEADLY to give away. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends February 23. Leave a valid-email address with your comment. Book will be shipped directly from the author.**
Meet the author:
When Maddy Hunter travels abroad, she has a hidden agenda. She’s not looking for famous sites; she’s looking for places to kill people. It makes for very interesting holidays! DUTCH ME DEADLY is the 7th book in her nationally bestselling Passport to Peril mystery series. Bonnie of Evidence, the gang’s Scottish adventure, will be released in February of 2013. Maddy lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband and a bunch of character’s in her head who keep asking, “Are we there yet?”
Please visit her website at www.maddyhunter.com or become a follower on her Facebook Fan page. Her backlist is available on Kindle, Nook, and perhaps a few other platforms that she doesn’t know about.
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.