If you decide to pick up this book, the number one thing you must be sure to do is read the chapter headings! There are a couple reasons for this: 1) they give you your Spanish lesson for the chapter. Each chapter is numbered in English and Spanish and the heading includes a Spanish word, pronunciation, meaning and a sentence to show context. I think it has already been established that I'm a bit of a geek and I really enjoyed these little lessons. 2) pay attention to the date included in the heading. There are a couple of chapters that are flashbacks. This really wasn't confusing, as long as the heading was read. Because Sarah goes missing in Mexico at the outset of the book, the flashbacks are used to introduce the reader to her character. I found these chapters interesting and helpful in getting to know Sarah.
It is very obvious that Stuart Gustafson is a travel writer. This is his first travel mystery and it reads almost as if someone has taken a travel book and a mystery novel and shuffled them together like a deck of cards. That isn't meant to be a criticism. The mystery kept my attention but the descriptions of San Jose del Cabo have me searching the net for cheap airline tickets. I have a burning desire to go and see these sites for myself. I found that I enjoyed the mix.
Stan, the private investigator, was an interesting character. I was amused at his attempts at romance. In other mysteries I have read, the investigator is so focused on his case that any romance involved, also involves the case. I think 'Missing in Mexico' shows a more accurate picture of what an investigator's life is really like. Sometimes the clues are really hard to come by. Sometimes there are days when nothing can be done and Stan may as well go out on the town and play tourist - maybe with a 'friend'. Sometimes waiting is the name of the game. It makes for a much slower paced plot than I usually enjoy but the descriptions of the setting helped to take up the slack. I also liked that the romance in the book was sweet and not forced.
Surprisingly, I didn't connect at all with Sarah's parents. I found it hard to sympathize with them. Certainly if Sarah had been my daughter, I would have reacted much differently. Not only didn't I connect well with them, I also didn't like them very much.
I don't know whether I was just really in tune with this author or if the mystery really was quite transparent but I did have it figured out within the first few chapters. While this did give me the satisfaction of feeling really smart, it also made me a little impatient with Stan the detective. The ending of the story was perfect. Perhaps too perfect. I always prefer a less than perfect ending.
Overall, 'Missing in Mexico' was a satisfying read and I look forward to Mr. Gustafson's next travel mystery.
Character Development 3
Find out what other reviewers have to say. Check out the blogs in the tour.