GUEST POST + GIVEAWAY: Death on the Danube by Jennifer S. Alderson (Cozy Mystery)

DEATH ON THE DANUBE:  A New Year’s Murder in Budapest
Travel Can Be Murder, #1
Jennifer S. Alderson
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Traveling Life Press
Date of Publication:  November 19, 2019
Number of Pages:  158

When Jessica, a grieving widow, inherits an antique mall from her mother she also inherits the stallholders, an elderly, amoral, acquisitive, and paranoid collection.

When one of the vendors, a wily ex-con named Roxy, shoots her ex-husband, she calls on Jessica to help bury the body and soon Jessica is embroiled in cover-ups, lies, and misdirection. Into this mix comes Lizzie, Jessica’s late husband’s twelve-year-old daughter by his first marriage, who’s been dumped on Jessica’s doorstep by the child’s self-absorbed mother and it soon becomes apparent that Lizzie is as obsessed with material possessions as Jessica’s elderly tenants.

Why Stuff Matters is a compelling ode to possession, why people like things, and the curious lengths they will go to keep them. Returning to her fictional Caprock, Waldo turns her wry wit on the lives of those afraid to let go.

Budapest as the Setting for a Cozy Mystery

Budapest is the vibrant capital of Hungary and the setting of my first cozy mystery, Death on the Danube. I enjoyed visiting this fascinating city so much, when I was trying to decide which cities my tour groups should visit, Budapest was the first that sprang to my mind!
When I first visited, I had visions of Soviet-era buildings, grey-clothed locals, and a depressing atmosphere. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is rightfully one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe these days. 
When I began writing this first mystery, I talked with friends who had also been to Budapest about the tourist attractions and monuments I was including in my book. To my great surprise, several places that I absolutely loved, they despised. And vice versa. I left our lunch feeling rattled and despondent.
I wanted to write about many travel destinations, yet in a way that wouldn’t turn off the majority of readers, but interest them in learning more. Yet how could I ensure that my descriptions would appeal to the ‘average’ reader? Why by reading online reviews, of course! 
While researching one of the locations in my cozy mystery, I stumbled upon a TripAdvisor page for the monument and saw there were thousands of reviews. When I started to read through them, I realized that the majority of those who left one-star reviews, complained about the same problem. And the majority of those who left five-star reviews cited the same reasons for doing so. 
In a strange way, those reviews helped solve a crucial problem with my descriptions of setting. Ultimately I discovered review sites for all of the places mentioned in my book. If a hundred people mentioned that they loved a certain aspect of a monument, I mentioned it in my book. If a hundred people said they hated a tourist attraction for a specific reason, that got a mention as well.
So where do my intrepid travelers visit in Budapest? I’ll let tour guide Lana Hansen share some of her impressions of Budapest with you. She also happens to be the lead character and amateur sleuth in my cozy mystery series, Travel Can Be Murder! 

Lana’s first impression of Budapest, as seen from the taxi taking her from the airport to her hotel:
“Lana had originally envisioned Budapest as a city full of grey, Communist-era buildings. But the photos in Dotty’s guidebooks were of beautifully maintained neoclassical, baroque, medieval, gothic, and rococo buildings. Driving through the heart of the city, Lana was glad to see Dotty’s books didn’t lie. The imposing statues, tiered-fountains, captivating monuments, delicate spires, and majestic buildings decorated with snow and sparkly lights made Lana feel as if they were driving through a postcard. Everything was so much bigger than she had imagined. Several buildings seemed to fill an entire city block and many monuments stretched high into the sky, often topped by a stately figure, angel, or knight.
As their shuttle bus rounded Szechenyi Square, Lana gasped in awe. A massive bridge built from stone arches and long bars of linked metal led across the Danube River. Two fierce stone lions gazed down onto the traffic, almost daring cars to cross it. That must be Chain Bridge, the first bridge built connecting Buda to Pest, Lana thought. She held her breath and gazed down into the Danube River as they crossed, humming the waltz of the same name softly to herself. The Pest side was relatively flat, but the Buda side seemed to be a series of hills and patches of forest.”

Because Wanderlust Tours are geared towards travelers long on money and short on time, they tend to be a bit more luxurious than the average tour. In Budapest, her group is treated to the opera Elektra, performed at the Hungarian national Opera House on New Year’s Eve. Here’s her first impression of the main auditorium: 
“’Holy cow,’ Lana muttered under her breath, completely taken aback by the beauty of it all. A massive chandelier hung in the center of the dome-like ceiling. Elegant frescos of angels playing musical instruments circled the lighting fixture. Three levels of seating were built into the sides of the horseshoe-shaped auditorium; the yellow stone glowed against the red walls, floors, and seats. The tourist guidebooks weren’t lying when they said this opera house was one of the most beautiful in the world.”

A winter trip to Budapest wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the world-famous Christmas markets! Here is Lana’s first impression of the Christmas market her group visits on Vorosmarty Sqaure: 
“They soon arrived at Vorosmarty Sqaure, their first stop in the heart of Budapest. It was the oldest, and many claimed, the most beautiful Christmas market in the city. Lana had never seen one before so she couldn’t judge for herself. Regardless, it was a delight for the senses – full of color, festive lights, music, and enticing aromas. A choir of young men sung traditional songs. Their cheery melody put a swing in Lana’s step as she gazed around in wonder. The smells of roasting nuts and sausages competed with the cinnamon and caramel wafting through the air. Strings of colorful lights were strung around the tree trunks and above the pathways winding through the many market stalls.”

I hope you have enjoyed learning more about Lana’s travels and the sights her tour group gets to visit along the way. Happy reading and travels!
Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before settling in the Netherlands. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.
Jennifer’s love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning mystery series—the Zelda Richardson Mysteries and Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mysteries—and standalone stories.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  Best of luck!
Many thanks to Great Escapes Book Tours and the author! It was a pleasure hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

November 29 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST
November 29 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT
November 30 – I Read What You Write – CHARACTER GUEST POST
December 1 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
December 2 – TBR Book Blog – REVIEW
December 2 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
December 3 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
December 3 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW
December 4 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
December 4 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
December 5 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
December 5 – Here’s How It Happened – REVIEW
December 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 6 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
December 7 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 7 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
December 8 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
December 9 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW
December 9 – This Is My Truth Now – SPOTLIGHT
December 10 – Book Club Librarian – REVIEW  
December 10 – eBook addicts – REVIEW
December 11 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
December 11 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
December 12 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
December 12 – That’s What She’s Reading – GUEST POST

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