Wendall Thomas’ debut novel, Lost Luggage, is about animal trafficking. The mystery may seem outrageous at times, but not when you read Makeda Easter’s article for the Los Angeles Times, “‘Operation Jungle Book’ leads to federal criminal charges against suspected wildlife traffickers”, http://lat.ms/2iCh1mI
Intrigued? Here’s the link to Lost Luggage in the Web Store, followed by the summary of this first mystery in a new series. http://bit.ly/2i7kXYW
Cyd Redondo, a young, third-generation Brooklyn travel agent who specializes in senior citizens, has never ventured farther than New Jersey. Yet even Jersey proves risky when her Travel Agents’ Convention fling, Roger Claymore, leaves her weak in the knees-and everywhere else-then sneaks out of her Atlantic City hotel room at three a.m.
Back in Brooklyn, when she reads about smugglers stopped at JFK with skinks in their socks or monkeys down their pants, she never imagines she will join their ranks. But days after the pet store owner next door to Redondo Travel is poisoned, Cyd wins a free safari. Her boss, Uncle Ray, wants to cash it in for computers, but Cyd is determined to go. When Roger turns up at the Redondo clan’s door, Cyd invites him along as her “plus one.” And just like that she is thrown heels-first into the bizarre and sinister world of international animal smuggling.
She and Roger arrive in Africa, luggage lost, to find two of Cyd’s elderly clients in a local jail. She manages to barter them out, only to discover smugglers have hidden five hundred thousand dollars’ worth of endangered parrots, snakes, frogs, and a lone Madagascan chameleon in the clients’ outbound luggage. When Roger steals the bags – is the U.S. Embassy in on the contraband ring? – Cyd and the chameleon helicopter into the jungle to go after Roger on their own.
Wondering if “plus one” Roger is actually a minus, Cyd dodges Interpol, faces off with a cobra, steals a diplomatic bag, hijacks a FedEx truck, crashes an eco-safari, winds up in a leopard trap, and is forced to smuggle snakes in her bra. It’s a scramble to find the smugglers, save her clients, and solve Mrs. Barsky’s murder before finding herself at the top of the endangered species list.
For fans of Elaine Viets, Lisa Lutz, Janet Evanovich, and Blaize Clement