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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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Craig, Daniel Edward: Murder at the Universe

  Amazon  

4 stars

In this first installment in Daniel Edward Craig's Five-Star Mystery series, Trevor Lambert is employed as Manager of Rooms at the swanky, space-themed Universe Hotel in New York. Trevor is really more than an employee: he's swallowed whole the guiding principles articulated by the Universe's founder, workaholic Willard Godfrey, in his book, Universal Values. Trevor's life, like his mentor's, revolves around the Universe. He is the quintessential host and model employee, polite and spit-polished and concerned at all times that the hotel's guests, however obnoxious they may be, enjoy a world-class hospitality experience. When Murder at the Universe begins, the hotel is gearing up to host an anti-impaired driving conference, an important source of revenue during an otherwise slow period. Unfortunately, the conference's organizer, Brenda Rathberger, has a less than satisfactory Guest Arrival Experience when she shows up at the hotel to prepare for the conference: the book's title will suggest what it is that mars Mrs. Rathberger's early impressions of the hotel. The same unpleasantness throws the hotel's staff into a tailspin and prompts a number of them to reassess their situations. Trevor in particular is forced to consider the possibility that, as friends and family have been insisting, he has lost a part of himself over the last few years while absorbed in his job.

Having read and enjoyed the author's third Trevor Lambert novel (see my review of Murder at Graverly Manor), I was happy to go back and begin the series from the start. I am equally impressed with this one. The book is billed as a mystery, and it does offer one, but while Trevor does a small amount of amateur sleuthing the book is really less about who done it and more about Trevor's character. We get to watch as the crisis at the Universe leads slowly to his seeing past the hospitable veneer of life in the hotel. The book is also about the hotel industry itself. The Universe is as much a character in the book as any of its staff. Craig, who has had a long career managing hotels, provides a fascinating inside look at hotel life, and one can understand the allure of its superficial charms. There's one more book (to date) in Craig's series, Murder at Hotel Cinema. I'll surely be reading that installment soon as well.

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