Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: Flamenco, Flan and Fatalities by Mary McHugh

Murder is nothing to tap at. . .

The high-kicking Happy Hoofers–Tina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise, and Gini–have been booked to flaunt their fabulous flamenco footwork on a luxury train ride through northern Spain. But when a blowhard talk show host is found deader than four-day-old flan–with Gini as suspect numero uno–the feisty friends waste no time stepping into their sleuthing shoes to protect one of their own.

The dynamite dancers will have to step up their game before a clever killer brings the curtain down on one of them . . . for good!



A cozy on rails!  Now that's a new one on me.  And they're pretty brave too - for dancing the flamenco in Spain.  One might think the Spaniards would say, "Who do these Yanks think they are, dancing a traditional dance of our country?"  But the Hoofers are enthusiastic, and love what they do, and they are considerate of their audiences.  All this shines through their performances and endears the dancers to the other train riders.

If I had a toe tap worth of dancing talent, I would want to join the Happy Hoofers!  Well, maybe in my younger days.  These ladies are close friends and truly care for each other.  I get the feeling that there is no issue they would not tackle on behalf of one of their 'sisters'.  One Hoofer has an inattentive husband at home and finds herself mutually attracted to a widower on the train.  One admits her attraction to a female passenger.  Another is in serious mutual like with the Inspector who comes on board the train to investigate the murder.  All these occurrences allow the Hoofers to show their concern for their compatriots well-being without judgment.  Those are some gold-medal friends!

Shambless, the villain-victim is one you can love to hate.  He is intolerant, totally assured of his own importance, and (the kicker) thinks handicapped babies should be killed at birth to avoid being a drain on the government (financed by himself and the public).  Then he gets killed, and that provides no shortage of suspects.  Then, once that investigation has progressed to the point that they could move on with their trip, Shambless' cameraman is found dead.  Maybe he caught something on tape?  In any case, the bartender who had been arrested was released as he could not have committed the second murder.  Gini, the Hoofer-narrator for this particular Hoofer mystery, is the third one in the sights of the real 'bad guy'.

There are quite a few seafood recipes included in the book, following the train's travel through northern Spain and the specialities of that region.  Now, I'll eat fish, but most seafood is lost on me.  I'd probably be made to sit at the back of the train!  (I did have octopus once and it was ok.  And I ate shrimp that was served in a salad at a friend's house - once.  But that was because I thought it would be rude to pick it out.) There are also photography hints and tips at the end of most chapters.  

Perhaps it was the fact that I was reading this book on my phone, but the number and placement of these recipes and tips, delicious and insightful as they may be, was a bit of a distraction.  When you read this book, may I suggest either a Kindle/Kobo type device, or a print copy.  I just get the feeling that the formatting for these devices would make for a more readable experience.

Flamenco, Flan and Fatalities serves up just what it says:  good entertainment, good food and good mystery!  I am looking forward to reading other books in this series.



Mary McHugh graduated from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, with a B.A. in English Literature and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. She is the author of nineteen nonfiction books and two novels. She was a contributing editor for Cosmopolitan, an articles editor at Woman’s World, Travel Holiday, and Bridal Guide, and has written articles for The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and Family Circle.

She loves to tap dance and to travel - two passions that inspired her to write the Happy Hoofers series.

She lives in the New York area.


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(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)


  1. Sounds like an interesting theme and interesting concept with the recipes that come along in the story/book.


  2. Well that sounds really different. I read on my phone and it does some wonky stuff to recipes/cookbooks.

  3. Not so sure I would like this book.
    Thank you for the review to help me decide.