If you’re missing Summer Blockbusters amidst closed theaters and have binged as much Netflix as you can take, may I suggest a good read instead? Rest your eyes upon a cozy book that goes well paired with a steamy mug of sweet caffeine. I have just the story for your escapism needs: The Case of the Floating Funeral. This is my 99.9% spoiler-free review.
Cheri Baker’s third cruise ship cozy mystery, starring Ellie Tappet, delivers another wholesome murder mystery to solve. Baker shows talent in repeatedly authoring varied plotlines with the same core cast of characters. She avoids falling into a formulaic rut and keeps the reader guessing!
This is what I’ve come to like about Baker’s stories. They’re dependable. You can count on them to let you easily escape into a fun bit of fiction, despite misfortune (every story must have conflict!).
The Case of the Floating Funeral is a prime example.
In this book #3, amateur sleuth and match maker Ellie Tappet again finds herself thrust into the center of a questionable death. Foul play is never far from her, and though it prefers to stay in hiding, the truth of the foul player always comes to light. Ellie proves again that she’s a natural at solving the “Whodunnit?”
Ever helpful, wise, caring, and observant, Ellie’s character remains consistent while also growing through adversity brought by her trials. Her patience is put to the ultimate test in the Floating Funeral, both on and off the cruise ship.
Locations are described pleasantly, from a lush jungle shore excursion, filled with sights and sounds that put your imagination right in the thick of it, to a funeral within the Panama Canal!
The action in the funeral scene was a hoot! The emotional characters were at their limits, driven to express themselves in both acute and obtuse manner. Alcohol-fueled eulogy? Wow – I bet that was fun to write.
The secondary characters from book #1 and #2 continue their support for the cruise ship, Ellie, and the plot that will truly surprise the reader!
To get the fullest impact of the plot twist in book #3, you must have read at least part of book #2. This was a delight for me! What I thought, and what others thought, was…uh, different.
So as you read the Floating Funeral, your mind adjusts to…some revelation. And then the plot twists yet again!
This puzzle of a story is tied up in a pretzel knot.
As I read and took notes, one word that came to mind throughout the book was ambitious. Another one was smart. Cheri Baker’s third Ellie cozy mystery is without doubt more complex than her previous cruise ship pieces. She must have done much research.
Getting the details correct was a feat. It involved attorneys, business people, a funeral, a will, and a company with people’s fortunes and jobs at stake. And Baker met the challenge of writing it simply enough to stay a cozy and quick read. Bravo.
With the stakes raised in this story, Ellie and other characters have quite a few heated exchanges! It brings a lot of tension to several scenes. It’s gripping. I really enjoyed it!
As usual, Baker also spreads enough misdirection into the mystery plot to make everyone a suspect yet no one to pin the crime on. There was enough motive to go around for several characters.
While Baker did well overall to weave the ambitious and complex narrative in the third person, I did find the mystery-reveal to be somewhat difficult to grock. But people are complex, and Baker’s believable characters are no different. Under duress, they do things you don’t expect yet are not so surprising at the same time.
Some small downsides, it was hard to believe a few plot points in the story, like when Ellie had to keep a certain secret under pretense. Or when she snooped on one occasion. But these were not so bad that she was completely out of character.
Also, with those minor points, I’ll mention there were a few similes or metaphors early in the story that, while they technically worked, felt a bit forced. But to be fair, there were several later in the story that were much better. They fit the context and character of the scene.
You should not be deterred from picking up this good read, however. Baker wrote with great effect at several places where she didn’t tell me what a character was feeling, she showed me! This is fundamental writing and it made me feel like I was feeling the feels in the moment. Good stuff!
I especially enjoyed small touches, like the names of a few tertiary characters: Backpack man, Briefcase man, sock-guy, and flamingo-shirt guy. Some other thoughts and feelings: I felt sorry for Tobias… I strongly disliked Roberta…I would not work for her!
The end of the book where things are wrapped up and tied off kept with Baker’s standard: splendidly done.
Bonus news: this isn’t a trilogy. Ellie Tappet book #4 is in the works!
Also, I want to go on a cruise again. In real life.
Reading books this Summer has been a totally not-guilty pleasure. Do yourself a favor and grab Cheri’s latest cozy mystery that costs no more than a coffee.
Thanks for reading my 99.9% spoiler-free review of The Case of the Floating Funeral.
Check out the website of Cheri Baker for more.
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