Tuesday, March 6, 2012

For Whom the Funeral Bell Tolls

For Whom the Funeral Bell Tolls
Author: Livia J.Washburn

Key West is a tropical paradise where tourists and locals can explore the many sights, visit the historic museums or just get together at the local bar for a friendly night out. But, when Delilah Dickinson shows up with her unique group of tourist that signed up for a four-day tour you just never know what is going to happen. Yes, you got that right. This beautiful vacation haven is about to get a touch of what Delilah brings along best: Murder.

We begin with our tour guide introducing the reader to her eclectic and interesting clientele. Some young, others seniors a few quite colorful in nature and in appearance while others you just won’t believe. But, one who particularly stands out for creating quite a ruckus might just go down in Key West Tourist History. You see: Sloppy Joes is a famous bar and many locals and tourists patronize it on a daily basis. One of the main attractions locals love to discuss is Ernest Hemingway. The tour groups that sign with our Delilah look forward to their special day at Hemingway House. But, one young man named Walter Harvick starts things off with a huge loud bang and would become infamous for his rude and insulting remarks to one mane that swears he’s Hemingway’s double. What happens when these two get into it and the end result when the confrontation gets out of hand would make a great prologue for a movie on Lifetime. It is hysterical and Delilah, a real pro comes to everyone’s rescue in her own special way. She is sharp, quick on her feet and with her associate Luke she manages to get all of the tourists and even Walter back on the van safely extricating them to return to the hotel. But, there is much more to come as the hotel locks its doors at midnight and someone from inside must let the guests back in. Here is where we meet the owner Tom Bradenton.

Things heated up even more after the tour when Walter and another guest Ronnie seemed to have difficulties and his rudeness continued when telling her off and others too. Claiming to be a Hemingway buff he does not take it lightly when anyone speaks ill of the man, makes fun of his relationships or attempts to show that he/she might know more about the writer than him. As one of the young guests and Walter got into it again Delilah managed to work her magic and cast a calm spell on both of them hoping it would not wear off.

Rollie Cranston is a tour guide at the museum and frequents Sloppy Joes. Rollie seems to like Delilah and when apologizing for Walter’s behavior asked her out for a drink. Delilah was about to meet Rollie for a drink when she was approached by one of her clients who was getting close to Walter. The problem was no one could find Walter. He was nowhere to be found which of course leads the reader to think foul play.

A walk on the beach for two of her older clients would reveal something horrific. Awakened by a loud bang on her door Delilah is told to go to the beach where she learns of the death of Walter Harvick. For appearances and how the body was positioned on first assessment it appeared he followed in Hemingway’s path with his suicide. When the detective questions Delilah and learns more about Walter he begins to think otherwise. Walter was not what he appeared to be asking to rent a service of one man who was noted for drug trafficking, bringing in illegal aliens and many other crimes on Key West. But, why this man turned Walter down has not been revealed and who would want him dead? I am sure there is a long list but that too remains to be seen. As the detective beings to question those on the tour one member stands out as missing. Finding Ronnie in her room she appeared unaware of Walter’s demise.

This is not the first encounter with murder for Delilah and what I love about her is that she does not crumble or fall apart. Withering in public like a wilted flower is not her thing as the medical examiner deems it murder. The reactions of the clients vary and two disappear. Just where they are no one knows yet.

When all of the missing players come together there are several startling revelations that are made. Was Walter really killed on the beach or was there another explanation? Why did Phil Thompson lie about renting a boat to go fishing instead of telling the truth he was treasure hunting? Why did Matt omit telling the police where he was in the middle of the night and what has that got to do with Walter? Why did Ronnie try and take her own life or did someone help her along?

When Delilah decides to check out some books she finds the key to the entire murder along with a map that sets up on a course that just might have her wind up on the killer’s list. What really happened to Walter and why he was killed stems from something he learned from someone’s past. That you will have to find out for yourself as Delilah is the other detective assisting the police and I’m just the review presenting some of the facts but of course not all.

Appearances can be deceiving and kindnesses can be false and sometimes greed wins out when all else fails. Phil and Sheila learn some hard lessons and are convinced there is a treasure to be found on Key West. Ronnie needs time to deal with Walter’s death and one detective knows when he sees a smart woman and does not decline her help. Delilah always seems to be in the thick of things when murder is front and center. She’s smart, she sassy and she knows when to back off and when to strike it hard and solid to bring a murdered to justice. Is there a treasure? Who killed Walter? Would you book a literary tour with Delilah knowing you might get more than you bargained for and even a murder?

Author Livia Washburn keeps the reader guessing until our Delilah just might figure out who did it before the police. Just who the killer is you won’t believe and why even more astounding. Ernest Hemingway was a great author whose works will always keep readers glued to his printed page and so will this author. Let’s hope she brings Delilah back to solve another one. Delilah is a great character but I love Luke and his loyalty to her even though he is married to her daughter. One police detective that actually listened to her opinion and respected it, so who knows maybe they will team up for even more. Fast paced, action packed and definitely worth the read.

This book gets:
Five Hemingways
Fran Lewis: reviewer

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