The Aurelia has finally docked in Southampton, its maiden voyage complete. After tearfully bidding Jermaine and Barbie goodbye, she leaves by the general exit, which surprises not only the porters waiting with her luggage, but helps her evade a large, thick-necked man in a suit who looks suspiciously like the English version of the various organized crime thugs she encountered on her trip around the world. She and Anna make their way back to East Malling in her battered Ford Fiesta, where she’s arranged to stay at Mrs. Crawford’s bed & breakfast.
She’s anxious to get on with solving the murder of her former best friend, Maggie Jeffries, and enters her home using the spare key Maggie gave her years ago, where she finds some illuminating paperwork — Charlie is an executive director of Maggie’s publishing company. Still stewing, she then has to deal with the arrival of the police, who were alerted by the alarm company when she entered. Although they’re not pleased by her entry into a crime scene, she makes a friend in Detective Sergeant Mike Atwell, who recognizes that the famous cruise ship detective really knows what she’s doing.
While running errands the next day (and briefly meeting Tempest Michaels of Blue Moon Investigations), she’s rudely yanked off the street by Sergeant James Jenkins and his organized crime unit, who have decided Old City Firm gangsters Jim Brevin and Ian Drummond killed Maggie and order her not to interfere with their predetermined investigation. After the boorish police sergeant forces her to trudge on foot all the way back to Rochester, she’s then genteelly escorted off the pavement into a posh car to the HQ of the gangsters, where she’s served her customary G&T while the two men insist they had nothing to do with Maggie’s murder, despite having been caught on tape at her home a few hours before her death. (They also know Sergeant Jenkins has operatives squirreled away in their organization and feed them false information to throw the coppers off track.)
And when she finally returns to the B&B, the thick-necked man is waiting on the doorstep, so she flees to Charlie’s house, where he begrudgingly allows her to stay in a spare room … and withers under her questions about his investment in Maggie’s company.
As she pursues the case, her life is threatened three times, her little Ford reduced to smoking rubble, and she uncovers financial skullduggery in Maggie’s publishing firm. She tracks down the sticky-fingered culprit, who credibly claims no connection with the murder, and is still wondering who shot her former friend execution-style when the killer turns up in the most ordinary of circumstances.
And that’s also when the thick-necked man turns up once again, but the surprise he has for Patricia is far from what she expected.
No Place Like Home is a satisfying conclusion to the cruise ship mysteries and lays the groundwork for Patricia’s new life and detective agency at home in England. It promises to be an adventurous future.
Note: No Place Like Home is dedicated to a friend of the blog.