Review of Fortune Furlough by Jana DeLeon

It’s not a vacation until there’s a murder.

Fortune, Ida Belle, and Gertie are finally off to Florida on the vacation they’ve always talked about. Days filled with white sand, turquoise water, and fruity drinks are the only thing on the agenda. But when Gertie’s “hot date” turns up dead and she’s the number one suspect, they’re forced to hang up their bathing suits and shift to investigating mode.

They soon discover that Gertie’s beau was up to all kinds of shady behavior, leaving them with a long list of people who are happy he’s dead. But which one resorted to murder?

Available on Amazon.

The Audio: I treated myself to the audiobook version of this story after listening to clip a recently and really liking it. Narrator, Cassandra Campbell does a fantastic job with this story and these characters. I loved the differentiation between voices and think the narrator completely got the characters of Gertie and Ida Belle as she varied tone and intonation for each of them. That Southern twang and drawl were certainly used to best advantage and added lots of atmosphere to my listening and reading experience. The production quality was very good and I noticed no blips or skips.

The Story: A Florida Key vacation may be just what the doctor ordered for Fortune, Ida Belle and Gertie but no one warned Quiet Key that Swamp Team 3 was coming to shake things up… like an earthquake!

The mystery is pretty decent and we try to figure out who killed Otis, Gertie’s date from the night before. At first it appears a bit mission impossible with no lead on where to even start the investigations. These ladies, however, are diligent, lucky and smart so soon the clues, suspects and motives come rolling in. Even if you figure out the who, the why will keep you guessing for a bit.

Setting: The out-of-Sinful location meant the ladies had to be more resourceful. Even the author couldn’t rely on tried and true rationales and ploys, but author and characters came through putting new tricks and players to use. Admittedly there is some replication e.g. a substitute Swamp Bar and Ida Belle still gets a boat to go crazy in! Of course, even out of Sinful we still find out about the town’s mad hat laws.

“I get the flashing thing,” I said. “But why on earth would there be a panty law?”
“Sinful has one,” Gertie said.
“Of course it does,” I said.
Sinful had all kinds of unusual laws.
“You’re not allowed in public places without underwear unless you’re height-weight proportionate,” Gertie said.
“That seems a bit politically incorrect,” I said.

“But it saves a lot of money on therapy,” Ida Belle said. “Just think of all those times we’ve seen Celia’s underwear. Now imagine that law didn’t exist.”
I cringed.

Speaking of the players, our series favourites are at it again. There were some real zingers between Ida Belle and Gertie. These ladies may be older but they have a real sense of humor about their age.

“Fine,” Gertie said. “I look way too young to play Fortune’s mother anyway.”
“You look old enough to play Jesus’s mother,” Ida Belle said.
“I don’t know why we have remained friends this long,” Gertie said.
“At least she didn’t say Moses,” I pointed out. “You made it into the New Testament.”

I have to say though, perhaps the author could go a little lighter on the age jokes in the next book. There were a touch too many in this one. Given how cherished these elder characters are, I don’t see the need to be constantly making fun of their years.

Another area to work on is Gertie. This storyline offered a good opportunity to explore Gertie’s character a bit more and maybe dig a little deeper into her past but I think that chance was missed. She’s written as someone who is confident and happy in her life’s choices and seemingly different path. That’s great but I’m sure there’s more depth to be revealed. We get great insight into Ida Belle. Time for Gertie to get some attention too and not just be relegated to series goofball.

Well, that’s two books now where Carter has been given a reprieve from being at the receiving end of these sleuthing tricksters’ shenanigans. I cringe for him in the next book, which I’ll definitely be reading.

I give Fortune Furlough 4/5 espresso shots.

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