Every Time I Go on Vacation, Someone Dies
June 6, 2024
Book Review

Every Time I Go on Vacation, Someone Dies

reviewed by Lou Jacobs


The ultimate beach read has arrived with this zany, cozy mystery romp. Lovers of Knives Out, Only Murders In the Building, and the Finlay Donovan book series will gobble this beauty up like dessert. Catherine Mack has concocted a pitch-perfect romp set in the picturesque Amalfi Coast of Italy, filled with a cast of colorful, imperfect characters, delicious food, and a touch of romance.

Her heroine, Eleanor Dash, is a mystery writer on a promotional book tour with a group of people with extremely diverse backgrounds and motivations. Supposedly, she is working on details and settings for her next book in her wildly successful series. It happens to be the tenth anniversary of her first bestseller, When in Rome, a somewhat fictionalized account of her own adventure in Italy, when she met and had a whirlwind romance with the dashing but equally smarmy private eye, Connor Smith. She got involved in solving a series of bank robberies that brought down an Italian crime family. In her book, she kept Connor’s name as her love interest. This was a gigantic mistake. He then began extorting her for 10% of her profits from that book. The book was so successful that her fans clamored for “more Connor,” which ended up costing her 20% of the next eight books.

Lately, she has been devoting great energy and thought to how to kill Connor—in her next book. Accompanying her are a cadre of “fan readers” who have won the trip as a promotional prize, her sister Harper Dash, who is her valued assistant (whose own literary dreams were “dashed” by her sister’s success), Allison Smith, the ex-wife of Connor (whose existence she was unaware of when in Rome), Oliver Frost (her boyfriend at the time of the Rome tryst), several other mystery novelists (one who apparently keeps stealing her plot lines), and several other guests of dubious purposes and motivations. The romance with Oliver is rekindled but put on hold. Connor announces that someone is trying to kill him—glory be—and asks for Eleanor’s help. Bodies start dropping around them. It becomes unclear if Connor or Eleanor is the actual target. Who is stalking them and why is unclear… clues and red herrings abound.

Catherine Mack proves to be a marvelous storyteller as she weaves multiple plotlines and motivations into a zany narrative with escalating intrigue and suspense. Intermittently, she utilizes a second-person soliloquy to impart possible clues and red herrings to the “reader” (or audio listener). She pauses the story to discuss it with the reader. Eleanor continually drops in morsels to consider in her thought process of solving the murder. In the book, they are presented as “footnotes,” but in the audio version, they are presented more effectively in a linear fashion as the mystery unfolds. The excellent narration is provided by Elizabeth Evans, who expertly captures the personality, tone, wit, and snakiness of Eleanor Dash.

Thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Audio for providing an advance audio version in exchange for an honest review. Hopefully, we will follow Eleanor Dash on her further vacation adventures.

Every Time I Go on Vacation, Someone Dies available at:

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