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Fleur De Lies by Maddy Hunter
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This series has always been a bit all over the joint for me: some of them are so-so at best but every other book or so is well done enough to keep me interested and coming back for the next one.

There's also a very clear maturing of both the character and the writing; Emily started off the series as a rather frivolous MC, always leaping to stupid conclusions and rarely using her head. Fleur de Lies shows Emily at her best; she's calmer, more thoughtful and much more rational in her responses, while still maintaining a bit of sass.

The gem in this series and in this latest book is, as always, the group of seniors Emily travels with. They're a hoot and a half. In any other demographic, their addiction as a group to their iPhones would be irritating and cloying but here, it makes me laugh because my mom would totally be one of these travelling, tech-addicted seniors; although I'm pretty sure she'd look up from her phone to enjoy the scenery.

Fleur de Lies takes place, as is obvious by the title, in France; specifically, a boat tour down the Seine that starts in Normandy. There's a lot of focus on WWII and some great backstories come out. As she does in every book, Ms. Hunter brings the settings to life; my desire to see France again was ratcheted up a notch while reading, and I am dying of curiosity about the white stones on the beach of Étretat.

The mystery/plot was excellent. The author leads the reader on a merry chase with clues and red herrings littering the pages, and an ending that I never suspected. Really well done.

The only things I didn't like: I'm not a fan of Jackie. I love the inclusion of this character and her backstory, but she's an idiot. Brainless idiot.

The author uses "Eewww" for at least two different purposes only one of which is to express disgust, which is what I'm used to seeing it mean. I was confused a lot when she used "Eewww" to mean "oohh".

NB: This didn't irritate me (much) because it's something that seems to confuse a lot of people, but the author mentions "pastel coloured macaroons" in the French pastry shops and I'm quite certain she means "macarons".

(weddingish.com has a nice explanation of the differences, for anyone interested. )

When I was home on vacation, macrons were just starting to be a "thing" in Tampa, popping up in the more high-end pastry/chocolate shops. I'd never heard of macarons until I moved to AU, where they are massively popular and incredibly decadent.

Overall, a solid cozy mystery with a delightful cast of characters. I'll be looking out for the German one coming out next. ( )
  murderbydeath | Sep 20, 2014 |
As Emily Miceli leads a group of eleven Iowa senior citizens on a cruise on the Rhone River in France, she soon learns that they are more interesting in electronic communication than in sightseeing. Luckily for the reader, she describes several of the locations made famous in pictures by artists such as Monet.
The group is quite argumentative as are others on the cruise, particularly a trio of gorgeous blondes who have received the trip as a reward for their sales prowess for the cosmetic company for which they work. The elderly owner of the company and his wife are also aboard and also disagree on several issues. Another main character, Jackie, also being rewarded for her sales for the company, is a tall brunette who, before her sex change surgery, was married to Emily.
One of the stops is at the home of a French family where the guests are able to inquire about life in France. The visit brings back memories for the French mother and one of the members of Emily’s group.
Eventually, one of the passengers dies. The cause of her death becomes suspicious, especially when another one exhibits some of the same symptoms. Emily tries to discover the motive and the murderer.
The book was a well-written, light, quick read. Several witty segments work their way into the prose. One that I particularly liked was, when they were discussing how the police knew who to interview, someone suggested that they had read the medical forms. One of the blondes is shocked and says, “They can’t do that, can they? I thought the only agencies authorized to spy on Americans were the NSA, CIA, FBI, ONI, INR, IRS, online advertisers, and Facebook.”
I appreciated that Jackie was always referred to as “her.” Among the books short comings was the exaggeration of the characters. The seniors were too dotty and the blondes too dumb. ( )
  Judiex | Aug 12, 2014 |
In this 9th book in the series, Emily and her seniors are on a river cruise from the Normandy coast to Paris. Along for ride is Emily's ex-husband Jack, now Jackie, and others from the cosmetics firm she works for. (Long story). Anyway, when one of the super sales reps from Jackie's company dies of a brain hemorrhage, Emily is sad but also glad that this time their trip does not include a murder. Well, Emily rejoiced too soon.

The books in this series are so much fun. The characters keep you laughing. I also enjoy the descriptions of the places they visit. Can't wait to see where they go next. ( )
  TheLibraryhag | Jul 22, 2014 |
Emily is tour leader for a quirky group of seniors from her home town. On the same tour is her ex-husband, who is now a woman, with a make-up company group. Emily's group is obsessed with their cell phones and technology, but old passions flare when one of their group reconnects with a love from his past. Then a beautiful young woman dies and is found to have been poisoned. Was she the intended victim? If not, who was meant to die? And why? Go along on a laugh-filled cruise with a very odd group and enjoy the trip. ( )
  aztwinmom | Feb 19, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0738737984, Paperback)

Intrepid travel agency owner Emily Andrew-Miceli is taking her group of squabbling tech-savvy octogenarians to France for a Seine River cruise from Normandy to Paris. Joining the group are father and son funeral directors Woody and Cal Jolly, three beautiful but shallow Texans who sell Mona Michelle beauty products, and Emily’s ex-husband Jack, who after gender reassignment surgery is now Jackie, and one of the Mona Michelle company’s top sales reps.

Emily’s hopes for a fatality-free trip are dashed when a tour member meets an unfortunate end. Murder? Mishap? Between visiting the D-Day museum, spending time at Monet’s stomping grounds in Etretat, and partaking of delectable éclairs and macaroons from the magnifique bakeries of Vernon, Emily has another mystery to solve.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:11 -0400)

When intrepid travel agency owner Emily Andrew-Miceli takes her band of tech-savvy seniors to France, they say "Bonjour" by cruising down the Seine River. Along for the ride are a colorful cast of cruise-goers, including four sales reps who are the creme de la creme of the cosmetic industry and a group of morticians looking for a little joie de vivre as they sort out business conflicts. Once a guest is found dead along Normandy's famed Alabaster coast, Emily bids adieu to the hopes of a fatality-free trip.… (more)

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