Well-heeled travelers from around the world flock to the Mena House Hotel—an exotic gem in the heart of Cairo where cocktails flow, adventure dispels the aftershocks of World War I, and deadly dangers wait in the shadows . . .
Egypt, 1926. Fiercely independent American Jane Wunderly has made up her mind: she won’t be swept off her feet on a trip abroad. Despite her Aunt Millie’s best efforts at meddling with her love life, the young widow would rather gaze at the Great Pyramids of Giza than into the eyes of a dashing stranger. Yet Jane’s plans to remain cool and indifferent become ancient history in the company of Mr. Redvers, a roguish banker she can’t quite figure out . . .
While the Mena House has its share of charming guests, Anna Stainton isn’t one of them. The beautiful socialite makes it clear that she won’t share the spotlight with anyone—especially Jane. But Jane soon becomes the center of attention when she’s the one standing over her unintentional rival’s dead body.
Now, with her innocence at stake in a foreign country, Jane must determine who can be trusted, and who had motive to commit a brutal murder. Between Aunt Millie’s unusual new acquaintances, a smarmy playboy with an off-putting smile, and the enigmatic Mr. Redvers, someone has too many secrets. Can Jane excavate the horrible truth before her future falls to ruin in Cairo . . . and the body count rises like the desert heat?
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Debut of A Jane Wunderly Mystery series
(Sunday, March 29, 2020)
Reviewer: Kris Anderson, The Avid Reader
Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer is the debut of A Jane Wunderly Mystery series. This historical cozy mystery takes us back in time to 1926 (the Roaring Twenties) where prohibition is in full swing in the United States, dress lengths are shorter than ever, and women are bobbing their hair. Jane Wunderly is traveling with her Aunt Millie to Egypt where Jane cannot wait to visit the pyramids. They are staying at Mena House which has a golf course and a pool along with a variety of intriguing guests. Aunt Millie is quick to send an eligible bachelor in Jane’s direction the first evening (much to Jane’s annoyance). Jane was widowed at age twenty-two when her husband died in the Great War. She is not interested in finding a new husband after her experience with the first one. Jane must admit, though, that Mr. Redvers is enigmatic and dashing. Alcohol flows freely in Egypt much to Aunt Millie’s delight. Anna Stainton, a female guest, takes a dislike to Jane and is quick to cause discord between them. When Anna is found shot in her room, Jane becomes Inspector Hamadi’s top suspect. Jane sets out to prove her innocence and gets assistance from Redvers. There are a variety of suspects in Anna’s death. Jane follows each lead searching for the guilty party. It depends on your sleuthing level whether you find this mystery a cinch or perplexing. I liked that there was more than one mystery to solve. I was unable to get into Murder at the Mena House. I believe part of the problem was the first-person narrative. Jane’s descriptions of her facial expressions were awkward, and I was unsure why she would describe her own expressions in the first place. The author is a detail-oriented writer which does allow a reader to visualize the character and scenes, but it also slows down the pace of the story. I did enjoy the descriptions of the clothing and Egyptian sites. I thought the author captured the time period especially with the attitudes and manners (an example is “I should have had security tackle her on the way out, but it seemed improper.”) I wanted the book to have more action and a peppier pace. I did like Jane Wunderly with her natural curiosity, the mysterious Redvers and the gregarious Aunt Millie. Who knows where their adventures will take them next time! Murder at the Mena House has murder, mystery and mayhem in Egypt.