I haven’t taken many major vacations in my life, but when two of my college classmates decided to plan a trip to northern Italy for forty of us, I signed up before my brain could come up with any objections. Who wouldn’t want to spend ten days sightseeing, visiting some of the greatest museums in the world, plus a lot of villas and even a monastery, eating Italian food, drinking Italian wine—all in the company of forty interesting, intelligent women? (No spouses, significant others, or offspring invited.)It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? And it was—except for the body. Which I found. Blasted jet-lag—if I’d been able to sleep a little longer, the body would have been someone else’s problem, not mine. But because I found him, and I have a, well, kind of sensitive job that I can’t discuss, I felt compelled to make sure that the person’s death had been the accident the local police first called it.
It wasn’t an accident.
Once I knew that I felt really bad, because I didn’t want to spoil this wonderful trip for my friends and colleagues (or myself either), which meant that the murder had to be solved before it gummed things up for everyone. Of course, none of us knew more than enough Italian to order lunch, and we certainly didn’t know anything about Italian police procedures, which kind of hampered my investigation. But because it was first reported as a sad accident, I had a little time to sort things out, with the help of my college roommate Cynthia and a few other people I had to include (I’m not Superwoman, and I couldn’t do it all myself). The problem was, some members of the group had known the victim, and their memories weren’t all happy ones. Which meant we had a lot of suspects to work my way through in a very short time.
And we did it: we identified the killer. Most of our classmates never knew the death was anything but an accident, and they went home on schedule with a camera full of photos of happy people and gorgeous scenery.
Funny how the past catches up with you, in the most unexpected ways.