Prudence Peters has spent thirty years in the travel business and the last twenty-three as a leisure travel agent and manager for a national agency. She is a single woman, just turned fifty, extremely well traveled, long-divorced homeowner, who is used to taking care of herself as long as she stays employed.
The industry has been in slow decline because of the Internet for years and now seems on the brink of a major crash. Her week from hell begins on a Monday morning conference call with her State supervisor, Claudia Gage, demoting all five managers in the state of Oregon. If that isn't bad enough, one of the five offices will be closed down completely and the remaining offices will have to layoff one agent each. It is also the week for agent reviews, and later that day Claudia arrives with the additional bad news for Pru that her job is up for grabs. Everyone in the company is free to apply too.
That afternoon, instead of being laid off, one of Pru's agents, Meg Schultz, is fired and Pru and her agents are left with the stunned dread of things to come.
The rest of the week piles trauma after trauma, so that Friday morning Pru arrives with two offices closed instead of one and the news that Meg was seen arguing with Claudia in the Gresham office parking lot on Wednesday. That afternoon Pru gets a call from Meg's Mom saying that Meg didn't come home the night before. No one Pru calls has seen her, so she tells Meg's mother to report her missing. During her calls, she finds out most agencies are laying people off and not hiring, adding more stress to Pru's prospects should the company replace her. That evening she leaves for Vancouver, BC for a manager's meeting and decides to stay one more day and make a weekend out of it. It may be her last trip for a long time. At the airport she sees Claudia returning from her own meeting in LA looking stunned and anxious.
Monday morning Pru finds a police detective waiting for her at the front door of the office. She assumes it is about the disappearance of Meg Schultz. It is, but Claudia Gage was murdered Friday night.
Prudence Peters is a reluctant amateur sleuth in the story. Not interested in tracking down Claudia's killer, her priorities are to save her job and protect her office from closure and the jobs of her agents. However if Meg's name isn't cleared, all the offices in Oregon could be closed to protect the company's reputation from what one memo calls 'a postal employee'. The company becomes another antagonist in the story as it tries to back peddle by suggesting the firing of Meg was all Claudia's idea. Pru's regional manager arrives from LA to direct damage control causing more problems as they reveal hidden company agendas.
Pru tells herself she is only trying to find Meg to help her clear her name.
The same detective, Jacob LaFoure, is handling both cases. (Something Portland Police detectives do.) He is perfectly willing to let Pru check out all sorts of details that she has quicker access to than he does, thereby saving him loads of time in the missing person case. But soon her search for details lap over into the murder investigation and she and another agent find the body of Meg Schultz in her car parked in the long-term parking lot at PDX.
As the story progresses we meet the agents of the travel agency, the regional director, Claudia's husband Matty Stein, who is also a travel agent, and the manager of Matty's agency. All have major agendas that impact on both cases.
AND THEN WHAT????
You leave me high and dry with no solution to the plot and I’m going to call you at 7am my time (and YES I know what time it is in the City of Roses) and yell at you till you confess whodunit. Don't think I won't. I have your phone number; it's on your query letter.
This is a good synopsis. Crisp, clean, with motivation and an explanation for how the amateur sleuth is realistically involved in murder.
However, if you fail to complete the plot, you’re toast.