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Posts Tagged ‘showboat crash’

THE BRANSON BEAUTY by Claire Booth: Book Review

The Branson Beauty is an old showboat cruising the lake in Branson, Missouri, a city famous for its country music and family entertainment.  The showboat is a big attraction in the city, or it was until it ran aground with a full complement of staff and passengers aboard.

Strange, thinks Sheriff Hank Worth, since the weather was clear and the boat has been on the lake for some thirty years without an accident.  It’s stranger still when Hank goes aboard to interview the captain, Albert Eberhardt, and finds him in the wheelhouse in what appears to be a kind of fugue state.

At first it looks as if all of the passengers have been led ashore safely, but Hank goes through the boat with first mate Tony Sampson doing one final check.  All is fine until they arrive at the captain’s dining room, which had been rented out for a private luncheon party.  There on the plush blue carpet lies the body of a young woman.

The corpse is that of Mandy Bryson.  She was a popular teenager in town, now a first-year student at the University of Oklahoma.  No one seems to know why she was back in Branson instead of on the University’s Norman campus.  Her parents didn’t know she was in town, nor did her boyfriend, Ryan Nelson.  He was on the ship with another girl, attending his grandmother’s birthday luncheon in that private dining room, and he tells Hank that he was unaware that Mandy was on board.  But is that true?

Hank Worth is new to his job, having been appointed sheriff when the former one resigned to become a state senator.  He’s not totally aware of all the ins-and-outs of the city’s politics, but he does know that Henry Gallagher, owner of the showboat and of much else in Branson, is an important man who doesn’t like to be crossed.  Despite Hank’s clear orders that Gallagher not talk to the captain, who is now in the hospital under police guard, that’s where Hank finds Gallagher when he himself goes to try to interview the captain.   And Gallagher is not at all apologetic about ignoring Hank’s orders.

Hank Worth is a great addition to the list of sheriffs in mysteries.  Although the position of sheriff is an elected one in the city, because of his predecessor’s departure for a higher office Hank has been appointed to fill the position until the next election.  He’s made friends in the short time he’s been in Branson, but there are some people who were happier when the former sheriff was in charge, including Gerald Tucker, one of the undersheriffs in the department who feels he should have been named sheriff; city counselor Edrick Fizzel, a man who lives to see his name in the newspaper; and, of course, Henry Gallagher, the wealthiest man in the city, one who’s not used to taking direction from anyone.

Claire Booth has made an impressive debut with The Branson Beauty.  The setting is terrific, and Hank Worth is a protagonist to watch.

You can read more about Claire Booth at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.