mystery occurs. Not long after the events of “Diamond in the Desert”, Hope is approached by her cousin Ruth, who is seeking protection from an unknown attacker. In order to safeguard Ruth and her whistleblowing husband Leonard, Hope and her cohorts must take to the high seas and join a cruise ship event that Leonard insists on attending. When a dead body is discovered on the ship, an ordinary protection case once again turns into a gripping murder mystery, forcing Hope to question whether Leonard’s whistleblowing is truly at the center of it all. Hope must protect her clients and find the truth, all while navigating her tumultuous romance with FBI agent Matt Dennison.
Gilleland knows her readers. She knows what they want, when to give it to them, and when to tease out one exciting plotline or another to keep them guessing. It is precisely this quality that makes her mysteries so enticing and easy to read page after page after page. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, Gilleland knows just how to pull the rug out from under you. This, of course, ought to be a marker of any good whodunnit, but “Diamond on the High Seas” brings a charming simplicity to the table that sets it apart from other mystery novels. Gilleland has a way of writing that is direct and descriptive; you can see her stories play out as if watching them on the big screen. She spends little time on metaphors or long-winded imagery, choosing instead to let the strength of her major characters carry the weight of our emotional investment and focusing our attention on what we can see and feel. We find ourselves in the middle of the action, even during the book’s slower moments.
The book features quite a many characters, which isn’t especially unusual for the genre but, in this case, does at times become something of a distraction. Gilleland does manage to navigate this choice rather gracefully; we know who we’re meant to care about, and those characters are compelling and believable. It’s a hard balance to strike when nearly anyone can be a suspect; we want enough characters to keep us guessing but not so many that we find it difficult to keep up. Hope, herself, certainly does not disappoint. Ever the likable protagonist, the guardian-turned-sleuth shows another side of herself in this instalment that deepens our appreciation for her and keeps us looking forward to what comes next.
“Diamond on the High Seas” does not disappoint; Karen Gilleland writes from the mind of a reader — she knows exactly what you need.