Shore Excursion, by Marie Moore: Deadly Danger on Sea and Shore

Shore Excursion (ISBN: 978-1-60381-874-2, $13.95, 242 pp.), is a cozy mystery by debut novelist Marie Moore about a New York-based travel agent whose senior citizen charges are being targeted by a killer. Shore Excursion is the first book in a new series featuring amateur sleuth Sidney Marsh.

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Also available Kindle or in other eBook versions on Smashwords

“Anyone who has been on a cruise ship will appreciate the behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in Shore Excursion, murders notwithstanding. Sidney Marsh is an engaging amateur sleuth and the mystery in which she finds herself is creatively devised and vividly drawn. (The international setting helps as does a diverse cast of suspects.) Readers will certainly welcome back Sidney on another tour.

–Mysterious Reviews

“An appealing heroine tangles with murder and romantic interludes gone wrong in a tartly funny take-off on tour travel, with more twists than a conga line. Readers will be enthralled.”

—Carolyn Hart, author of the Death on Demand series

“I love a good mystery and this debut mystery of Marie Moore is just that … a really good book and I give it a 5, so Marie you have a bestseller on your hand as I see it. Keep putting those mysteries out there. Love this book.”

—Edna Tollison’s Reviews

“Beware all mystery writers. Marie Moore has now joined your genre with her well-told tale, Shore Excursion … This cleverly written mystery with its elaborate attention to detail will catch your imagination within a few pages …. I would highly recommend this suspenseful mystery to readers looking for a well-written who-done-it …. It is hard to believe that Shore Excursion is Marie Moore’s first mystery. Read this eerie tale. Like me, you will surely anticipate her next one.”

—Regis Schilken, Blogcritics

Travel agents may be a vanishing breed, but Sidney Marsh, a New York transplant from Mississippi, is holding her ground—at least on land. She is the tour leader on a cruise through Scandinavia to Russia for a group of eccentric senior citizens who call themselves the High Steppers. Sidney expects her days to be filled with long meals, shopping expeditions and visits to museums, churches and fjords. But this cruise is anything but routine. There is a killer on board, targeting the High Steppers and quite possibly herself. After the first suspicious death, the captain and his crew are grimly determined to carry on as usual. Disgusted with their inaction, Sidney decides to take matters into her own hands and launch her own investigation. She enlists the halfhearted help of her friend and business partner, the flamboyant and fun-loving Jay Wilson. Suspects abound. What about those two handsome young men who stay mysteriously aloof? One of them has his eye on Sidney. So does another passenger, far too charming and again too young to fit the “High Stepper” mold. Then there’s Captain Vargos, the arrogant ladies’ man whose plans to thwart Sidney’s investigation might include seduction. Who is that crew member shadowing Sidney? Is the theater really haunted? Even the High Steppers themselves are not as predictable or harmless as they seem. The closer Sydney gets to the truth, the less she understands.

“I have always loved to write,” says author Marie Moore, “beginning in the third grade with poems scribbled in my Blue Horse notebook. I continued to write stories and poems, but most of them ended up in the bottom drawer. Love, life, and responsibility took precedence. I was always busy, too busy. For a time, a job writing for a newspaper and some awards garnered in that work stirred the old embers, but not enough to create much of a flame. As time passed, the idea of writing a novel began to seem ridiculous, a silly dream that I was embarrassed to mention. Then one day my very special husband gave me a gift, a book about pursuing old dreams in midlife. That burning desire, long banked, rekindled. I got down to business, made myself write, made the time to work, snatching fifteen minutes here, thirty minutes there. Before I knew it, a book was taking shape. The Sidney Marsh mystery series is the result.”

Marie Moore is a native Mississippian. She graduated from Ole Miss, married a lawyer in her hometown, taught junior high science, raised a family, and worked for a small weekly newspaper—first as a writer and later as Managing Editor. She wrote hard news, features and a weekly column, and won a couple of MS Press Association awards for her stories. In 1985, Marie left the newspaper to open a retail travel agency, which she managed for the next fifteen years. Much of Shore Excursion was inspired by those experiences. She and her husband now live in Memphis, TN, and Holly Springs, MS. Click here for more information.

Shore Excursion is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. After April 1, it will also be available in Kindle ($4.95) and paperback editions at select Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores as well as Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon Japan. Bookstores and libraries can order through Ingram, Baker & Taylor or by contacting info@camelpress.com. Other electronic versions will be for sale on Smashwords, BN.com, Google eBooks or at any of the major online ebook stores.

More Praise for Shore Excursion:

“I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read. I really liked learning about the travel agency business …. In case you were wondering, I did not figure out who had done it. I was blown away once I found out what was really going on. A lot of times, I have a fairly good idea of the motive behind the murder. But this one, not a clue. This is a good first novel by the author. I’m looking forward to seeing Sidney develop as a character in future mysteries. There are going to be further books right, Marie?”

—The Bluestocking Guide

“Shore Excursion took me on a cruise filled with danger, secrets, excitement and intrigue. I can’t wait to go on another trip with Sidney.”

—Carol’s Notebook

“I have to say for a first time book, this was really good. Marie Moore is used to writing, having been a reporter for many years.  Add in her career as a travel agent, and she has married her love of travel and writing into a great excursion.  I think you might really enjoy reading this one.”

—Lenore Webb, Theysayimnuts.blogspot.com

“Shore Excursion is the first book in this new mystery series….one that will keep you on edge, waiting for the next to arrive …. This is a highly entertaining and fast-paced read.  This first book of Marie Moore is sure to be a great seller and leaves you highly anticipating the next mystery!”

—Lauri, KnitsandReads.blogspot.com

“Graced with humor, a striking cast of characters, masterful deception and really good writing, I can’t wait for the next in this appealing new series!”

—Mindingspot.blogspot.com

“This was a satisfying mystery novel.  The plot unfolds smoothly and I loved the varied cast of characters …. I enjoyed the book and am curious where Sidney’s next mystery/adventure will take her :)”

—MyTowerofBooks.blogspot.com

“Throw in some great settings and more than a little bit of real travel advice and all together Shore Excursion is a very nice and very promising start to a new cozy mystery series, a fast, fun read. I know that I will be traveling along on the next adventure!”

—CaitesDayattheBeach.blogspot.com

Shore Excursion is a fun and intriguing mystery! I loved the different characters – you can envision every one of them vividly. Shore Excursion has, as all good mysteries should, a number of twists, turns, and red herrings along the way. I admired Sidney’s determination to solve the mystery regardless of her safety. Flamboyant and feisty, Shore Excursion is the first in what will be an excellent mystery series!”

—Bibliophilic Bookblog

“This was a delightful little mystery that will amuse most lovers of the cozy mystery genre and of Agatha Christie’s stories …. a great beach read.”

—Carabosse’s Library

“An exciting suspense/thriller with all the ingredients to keep readers at the edge of their seat. It has romance, adventure and quite a bit of mystery all tossed into one huge, compelling story.”

—Socrates Book Review Blog

“If you enjoy travel, especially to different countries you will enjoy this book. It is light and funny, filled with enjoyable experiences. There is a bit of suspense and danger as well, but it does not overshadow the sense of fun imbued with the telling. A few red herrings are thrown in to keep you guessing, so you find it hard to second guess the culprits…. A fun summer or vacation read, with just enough teeth to keep you interested while lounging and enjoying the experience along with the characters.”

—Leslie Wright, Blogcritics.org

“Growing up a fan of Nancy Drew, I really love a good mystery with a few twists, and Marie Moore pulls it off wonderfully. I recommend this book to any mystery fans, especially those of us who grew up on Nancy Drew.”

—Unabridged Bookshelf

“If you love mysteries and want to take a ride on a cruise ship (not literally of course) to solve a murder mystery or two, then you definitely need to read this book.”

—Book Lovin’ Mamas

“I love the idea of a cozy-mystery set on a cruise ship with a travel agent protagonist.  And with a flamboyant, fun best friend as her sidekick is even better.  Shore Excursion is pure fun, it’s a mystery, it’s travel and it’s getting to know interesting characters of all ages.  To me that made it a very original and fun book.”

—My Reading Room

Keep Reading for an Excerpt:

I was awakened again at 6:15 by Jay, pounding on the door and shouting my name.

“Okay, okay, calm down, I’m coming,” I said, unlocking the door. “Come in. What is it?”

He burst into the cabin and grabbed me by both arms, nearly lifting me off the floor.

“Just get dressed right now. It’s awful. I don’t know what we are going to do, Sidney. Ruth Shadrach is dead.”

I sank back down onto the bed.

“Dead.” I stared at him. “What do you mean, dead?”

“I mean dead,” he said, “real dead, as in not alive. So stop asking dumb questions and get dressed.”

He opened my drawer and started throwing underwear and t-shirts at me.

“Here, put this on. No, not that, that’s tacky, this.”

I grabbed my clothes away from him.

“I can dress myself, thank you!” I yelled. “Stay out of my stuff. How is she dead? Where? When?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know.” He ran his hands through his red hair until it was sticking up all over. “All I know is that the room steward saw the other old ladies going to the Early Riser’s Breakfast this morning and thought Ruth was with them. So he knocked on the door. When there was no answer, hewent into Ruth’s cabin to make up the bed, and there she was. Dead. As a hammer. Someone’s killed her. Dr. Sledge, the ship’s doctor, is there now and the purser and they want you. So hurry up, Sidney, for God’s sake, put your shoes on, and let’s go!”

Strangely, we didn’t meet anyone as we rocketed up the stairs to the Continental Deck where poor Ruth Shadrach, afraid to room with a stranger, had booked a single.

She looked so pitiful, lying there in the new pink nylon travel pajamas that she’d bought especially for this trip. Twice she’d told me about them and the matching robe, its sleeves now securely knotted around her throat.

“Oh, my God!” I turned away from her and buried my face in Jay’s big chest.

Dr. Sledge pulled the sheet back over her.

“Miss Marsh,” said the purser, “I know what a terrible thing this is for you. It is terrible for all of us. But could you please inform your group of Miss Shadrach’s passing while Mr. Wilson comes with me now to the bridge to speak with the captain? Dr. Sledge will stay with Miss Shadrach, and Anthony will guard the cabin.”

****

How we got through the rest of that day, I’ll never know. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life was to gather the High Steppers together and tell them about Ruth Shadrach. They were stunned and saddened. Many were in tears.

“Who would do such a thing?” Mrs. Weiss said, shaking her head. “No one had any reason to harm her. No one knew her but us.”

She looked around the room at the others. They were no longer the jolly band of High Steppers, but frail individuals, peering at each other with closed, suspicious, fearful faces.

“We don’t know.” I said. “We don’t know anything yet. And at this point we don’t know what the procedure will be or what the captain will do. He will let us know when a decision has been made. Each of you will probably be questioned to see if you can provide any helpful information.”

“Will they bury her at sea?” blurted Mrs. Murphy, who was obviously more curious than distraught. “I’ve never seen a burial at sea.”

“NO, Gladys, they will NOT!” Jay shouted. He had just entered the back of the room, and he looked all in.

“Now, please, everyone, go on to lunch if you can,” he continued. “It’s open seating, and if you can’t, just go to your cabins and order room service or lie down or something and let us try to sort things out. When we have further information, we will share it with you. Right now, they are saying there will be no alterations in the day’s activities, but if you choose not to participate, believe me, everyone will understand.”

After they were gone, Jay and I went back to the conference room on the Promenade Deck. He had no new information from the captain.

Jay was pacing, couldn’t stand still, couldn’t sit, like a big cat. He ran his hands through his red hair again and again.

“They’re stonewalling, Sidney. I couldn’t find out anything. Everyone that I spoke with said they would get back to us later.”

I sank into a conference chair and put my head down on my arms on the cool gleaming wood of the table, thinking about it all, turning the whole terrible thing over in my mind.

“Did you actually speak with the captain, Jay?” I asked without moving my head. I thought if I didn’t move it, it might stop aching.

“No. The First Officer, a guy named Avranos, said that Captain Vargos was in a meeting and could not be disturbed. But what about the High Steppers, Sid? When you told them, what did they say? How did they take it? Pretty bad, I bet. Did anyone say if they saw or heard anything?”

I looked up at him. He had stopped pacing and had perched on the big table, staring at me with a grim look in his brown eyes.

“Oh, Jay, it was awful. Poor little Hannah just cried and cried. Even old Mr. Bostick was honking away into his handkerchief. But, no, no one mentioned hearing or seeing anything. Ruth had that single cabin on the port side, remember, and the rest were all on the starboard. So if they were all in their rooms sleeping when it happened, it’s not surprising that they didn’t.”

“So no one truly knows what happened.”

“No. No one except the…”

I just couldn’t say the word.

“Murderer,” Jay said, finishing the awful thought for me.

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