Chorus Line, Caviar, and Corpses by Mary McHugh is a cute cozy mystery. It is the first in the Happy Hoofers mystery series. The Happy Hoofers have been asked to perform on a Russian river cruise. The Hoofers are popular since a video of them tap dancing appeared online. The Happy Hoofers consist of their fearless leader and travel editor for Perfect Bridge magazine, Tina Powell; documentary filmmaker, Gini Miller; community theater actress and director, Janice Rogers; married and mother of three (and Tina’s closest friend), Mary Louise Temple; and family therapist, Pat Keeler. All of the ladies are in their 50’s and in very good shape because of their dancing.
The Smirnov, a Russian river cruise boat, is going to travel the Volga River from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The Happy Hoofers are excited about the cruise and looking forward to exploring Russia in between their dancing obligations. They arrive at the cruise ship and find they have very small staterooms (as well as the world’s tiniest bathrooms). They are then greeted by Heidi Gorsuch, the ship’s cruise director of activities. She is a stern Russian woman. After a delicious breakfast, the ladies set out to check out the boat and make friends. Tina, whose husband, Bill, passed away a year ago, meets Barry Martin. Barry is a lawyer (just like Tina’s husband, Bill) and actually went to law school with Bill. They also meet Brad Sheldon who is an off-Broadway actor who recently broke up with his boyfriend, Maxim. They were supposed to be on the cruise together. Alex Boyer, a report with the New York Times, is also on the cruise. Alex takes an instant likes to Gini.
The group is looking forward to lunch and they are very disappointed. When they complain to Heidi, they meet Kenneth Allgood, the chef. Ken is a British chef trying to cook British versions of Russian dishes for the passengers (with little success). Ken goes out of his way to threaten Tina for complaining about his food. Ken wants to get to America to open a restaurant in New York. Ken and Brad get close the first night on the ship.
The next morning Ken is nowhere to be found and neither is Brad. The police are called to investigate. After searching the river they find a body. They are only able to identify the body by the passport (which was in a waterproof pouch). Brad is not found. The police set out to find Brad while questioning everyone on board. Something does not seem quite right and the Hoofers set out to solve the mystery.
Chorus Lines, Caviar, and Corpses is a fun mystery. It includes some wonderful descriptions of the scenery and sights in Russia. Recipes are also included for some of the dishes mentioned throughout the book (the ship gets a much better chef after Kenneth Allgood). I enjoyed the twist at the end of the book when the killer was revealed. I liked that the heroines in the book are older. I give Chorus Lines, Caviar, and Corpses 4 out of 5 stars. A good first mystery in the Happy Hoofers series.
I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads Program.
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