REVIEW: Moon over the Mediterranean by Sheri Cobb South
In 1961, young schoolteacher Robin Fletcher is delighted to accompany her widowed aunt on a cruise from Barcelona to Venice–a voyage whose ports of call include some of the great cities of Europe. On her first night at sea, Robin is awakened by the moonlight flooding through her stateroom window. When she goes up on deck to admire the view, she witnesses one of her fellow passengers throwing something off the stern of the ship. Thus begins a series of strange incidents, each more bewildering, and more terrifying, than the last: a quarrel overheard among the ruins of Pompeii, the only word of which Robin can understand is her own name; an attempted assault in Istanbul’s exotic Grand Bazaar; and, finally, a terrifying confrontation amidst the romantic and mysterious canals of Venice. And through it all there is Markos, the ship’s enigmatic photographer, who seems to know more than he’s telling. By the time the trip is over, will the voyage have changed Robin’s life–or ended it?
Dear Ms. Cobb South,
Yay, just when I was in the mood for a 60s style romantic suspense, along comes your newest release. Because sometimes I don’t want another super secret black ops/former SEAL/serial killer/whatever suspense book.
My mother faced Robin’s college choices – teaching, nursing or business major to be a secretary. So Mom took business classes and taught – 2 birds and all. Meanwhile Robin thinks she’s merely passing time while waiting for her high school sweetheart to finally be ready for marriage. Two years into teaching she’s beginning to seriously wonder at Gene’s hesitation.
Robin’s widowed aunt steps in and offers her a chance for a dream vacation and Robin becomes a young American woman, wide eyed and happy to be in Europe for the first time. This is little before mass transportation made it so much easier and when it was still glamorous. Anyone who’s been on a cruise should recognize the ship boarding, lifeboat drills, captain’s dinner, and endless photos you can buy! It’s the era when people dressed up more. I love the fashion flashback of full skirted frocks, seersucker dresses and espadrilles before they got all preppy in the US.
The hero and villain are fairly easy to figure out. One looks suspicious and one annoys Robin to no end. But at least one of them is polite and treats his grandmother – loved her! – right. Unlike most Mary Stewart heroines, Robin gets to see and experience lots of ports of call while her aunt might have a romance of her own going. The main romance is mixed in through the story but not too prominently. I think the fact that Robin has waited out a failed relationship lets her decide fairly quickly on one that is right. The suspense plot might be easier to see today but with Robin’s lack of experience abroad it would probably have been harder for her to spot. Overall this is a nice homage to Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney books of the era. B-