Rendezvous in Veracruz

The school I teach at was weeding the library at the end of the year and I was lucky enough to grab a couple suspense books for summer reading, including a Jane Aiken Hodge. The one I picked to read first, however, is Rendezvous in Veracruz, by Carolyn G. Hart. And yes, it’s the same Carolyn G. Hart famous for the Death on Demand and Henrie O. series. Apparently she wrote a few YA suspense novels before turning to adult mysteries. The jacket blurb actually calls her “the Helen MacInnes for young people,” which is pretty high praise.

Lin Prescott is an American student at the University of the Americas in Mexico City, and living at a boarding house run by a Senora Alvarez. Her roommate, Maura Kelly, is a cool and sophisticated junior, also an American but familiar with the city from the years her father was with the Consulate. Because of this Maura has almost a bit too much confidence, so that when a handsome man flirts with her on the bus she sees no problem in dating him.

Even though Lin isn’t sure this is a good idea, Luis’ suavity quickly wins over the rest of the girls at the boarding house. He takes Maura out to all the hot spots in the city while Maura plays the role of touristy foreigner. One date night, however, Luis shows up early, and as Lin heads down to say Maura will be ready soon, she sees him slip a note under the clock on the mantel. When she mentions it to her own date, Juan, he assures her that it is probably nothing.

Maura, however, takes the news much more seriously, and is determined that she will not be dated for the convenience of a drop-off spot. With her quick wits she manages to intercept the next note–and the $100,000 in American money accompanying it. Suddenly Maura is in the middle of a dangerous game. She flees to Veracruz to escape Luis, and sends a cryptic message to Lin asking for help. Lin is willing to do whatever it takes, but has no way of knowing who she can trust. Anyone at the boarding house could have been Luis’ correspondent, or even her own date Juan, who has been acting secretive lately. She will have to do this alone, and quickly, because what the girls have stumbled into is so big that they will be lucky to escape with their lives.

When I get a lot of new books I tend to read the first few pages of each, just to get a sense of what they’re about. I did that with Rendezvous in Veracruz and before I knew it I was already on page 70. I could barely put it down all afternoon. It reminds me a little bit of Mabel Esther Allan’s young adult suspense books, like The Sign of the Unicorn, because the characters are on the young side but still living independently and quite capable of getting swept up accidentally into intrigue. The two girls are also a good contrast to each other. Maura is a almost a Nancy Drew-type character, collected and quick-witted and out for justice both personal and political. Lin’s courage is mostly just to make sure Maura will be safe. It’s almost funny how most of the males are completely ready to overlook them, or view them as a threat easily handled, when the opposite is true.

I still have the Dead on Demand series waiting patiently on my bookshelves, and this may be just the kick I need to need to finally read them. It will be interesting to see how Carolyn Hart handles the more classic mystery setting. One thing is for sure; she can definitely write a page-turner.

Published in: on July 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] of mind.” Luckily, I recently found and read one of Carolyn Hart’s YA suspense novels, Rendezvous at Veracruz, which finally gave me the kick to pick up Dead on […]

  2. Hi there! I’d like to have a private conversation with you about the possibility of quoting from this review. Would you be kind enough to contact me via email at dksadams (at)

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