Sunday, December 8, 2019

Death on the Danube - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Jennifer S. Alderson to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Jennifer writes the Travel Can Be Murder Mystery series. DEATH ON THE DANUBE: A NEW YEAR'S MURDER IN BUDAPEST is the first book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: Lana Hansen finds herself jobless and penniless on Christmas Eve. Have you ever had a similarly horrible holiday?

JSA: Christmas when I was a child were a joyous, family filled affair. But for some reason, when I hit adolescent, things started to go downhill. I swear, for many years, it seemed as if Christmas was cursed. Cars would break down, roads would be closed, family members would become suddenly ill – you name it, it happened to one of us on or around December 25! Many years, we ended up celebrating Christmas whenever we were all healthy enough to get together, usually days or weeks after the holiday was officially over.

Kathy: Lana was an investigative reporter, but helps her landlady by becoming a tour guide. Of those two professions, which one would you prefer?

JSA: I have worked as both, and can safely say investigative journalist. I enjoyed my brief stint as a tour guide, but quickly learned that I enjoy traveling solo more than in a group.

Kathy: In DEATH ON THE DANUBE Lana leads a tour group to Budapest, Hungary. Why choose this setting for the first Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery?

JSA: 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. I hope my cozy inspires readers to consider visiting.

Kathy: When you travel, do you generally go on group tours, or do you do your own thing?

JSA: I am an avid traveler, yet most of my experiences are of backpacking adventures through multiple countries visited during one long trip. I have been on tours before, but never ones as luxurious as those described in my cozy mysteries! Luckily, my mother has been on several and has shared so many photos and stories about the guides, hotels, and fellow passengers, I feel as if I have. I was also lucky enough to spend a day with her travel group when they visited the Netherlands. That was a fun and educational experience, for sure.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JSA: For the past three years, art-based thrillers have been my bread and butter. As much as I enjoy writing the Zelda Richardson Mystery series, I wanted to try something new. After batting several styles around, I decided to write something lighter and funnier than my current plot-heavy thrillers. Creating a new character-driven series within the framework of a whodunit-style mystery – a cozy mystery series thus – was the solution.

I enjoy reading cozy mysteries because of the puzzle aspect, as well as the quirky yet intelligent characters you often find in them. My mother is a huge mystery fan and I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie – in some readers’ eyes, the queen of the cozy mystery!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JSA: In addition to the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery series, I also write the Zelda Richardson Mysteries – a series of fast-paced, plot-heavy, art thrillers. I have also published three more books, two travel adventures and a travelogue that are part of my Adventures in Backpacking series.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JSA: My Zelda Richardson Mystery series are often described by reviewers as cozies, though technically they are more thrillers! Book One—THE LOVER"S PORTRAIT—is a suspenseful whodunit about Nazi-looted artwork that transports readers to WWII and present-day Amsterdam. Art, religion, and anthropology collide in RITUALS OF THE DEAD (Book Two), a thrilling artifact mystery set in Papua and the Netherlands. My pulse-pounding adventure set in the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, and Turkey—MARKED FOR REVENGE (Book Three)—is a story about stolen art, the mafia, and a father’s vengeance.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

JSA: Dotty Thompson, the owner of Wanderlust Tours, is probably my favorite to write. She is a combination of my favorite great grandmother and two great-aunts – all feisty, crazy, and fun women who taught me to not take life too seriously. Unfortunately all three passed on when I was in my twenties. Writing about Dotty is a wonderful way of bringing them all back to life.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

JSA: Not really. After reading several different styles of cozies, I decided to create a world based around my passion in life – travel. Creating a cozy mystery series about a tour guide turned amateur sleuth was an ideal solution!

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JSA: I had written one book and was finishing up a second when my father had an unexpected and fatal heart attack at sixty-one years old. It was quite confronting, to say the least. It was also a vivid reminder that life is short and we don’t know how long we have on this earth. I had been working up my courage to query agents before he died, but after I recovered from the shock of his loss, I decided there was no reason to wait. It took a while to get published, but I now have seven books out and the eighth will be released in February 2020.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

JSA: Donna Leon, Alexander McCall Smith, Alex Garland, and Philip Kerr. That would be an entertaining night!

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JSA: I just finished A LONG TIME COMING by Aaron Elkins and SECRETIVE by Sara Rosett. Next up on my lengthy TBR list is Harriet Steel’s PASSAGE FROM NUALA.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

JSA: I love to kayak and create stained glass windows and objects.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

JSA: Olives, feta cheese, red wine, and coffee.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

JSA: I have a total of nine books planned out for the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery, though I recently realized I could easily make it twelve. I’m writing them in blocks of three, with the idea that the characters undergo a major change at the end of book 3 that affects the next three.

My Zelda Richardson Mystery series is potentially endless; I have a long list of art-related story ideas I hope to one day turn into stories.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

JSA: It is a joy to create a world and mystery, and see how readers react to it!



By Jennifer S. Alderson
The First Travel Can Be Murder Mystery

Newly divorced and barely making ends meet Lana Hansen takes up her landlady's offer. All she has to do is co-lead a luxury tour and she'll get a reprieve on her rent and an all expense paid trip to Budapest. How hard could it be? Although the amenities are first class, the tour members keep Lana on her toes. From snobbish behavior, to veiled fighting over a man, and furtive glances all around Lana just hopes they don't kill each other! Unfortunately, Lana's hopes are in vain when her missing co-leader's body is found!  

I love exploring new places and would love to visit Hungary, especially the Christmas markets. I recently discovered I'm not cut out to be a world traveler, therefore I'm happy to allow Lana Hansen to be my guide. I enjoyed the descriptions of Budapest and, unlike Lana, I am a history buff and like learning all the details from the local guides. She and the Fabulous Five can keep the spa days, although I think I'd appreciate the architecture.

A good number of the tourists on Lana's first outing are the sort of people I hope never to meet and certainly not travel with. Lana is a likable protagonist, even though I'm not sure how she missed the connections between the travelers, especially as a former investigative reporter. My favorite character is Dotty and I love her way with animals and her new business venture for them. The pets also add dimension to the book despite their relatively small role.

There's a slow start to the first Travel Can Be Murder Mystery. While there is conflict from the tour group from the onset, the murder doesn't happen for quite some time. Then there's a slow investigation as the tour continues. Yet the penultimate scene, where Lana figures out who did it had me on the edge of my seat.

DEATH ON THE DANUBE: A NEW YEAR'S MURDER IN BUDAPEST is an enjoyable mystery which leads readers through the picturesque country of Hungary. The details of the travel blended with the furtive behavior of the tourists make an appealing narrative. I just hope Lana and the Fabulous Five, or Stupendous Six, don't sit near me at the opera! 


Death on the Danube: A New Year’s Murder in Budapest (Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series) by Jennifer S. Alderson

About Death on the Danube

Cozy Mystery 1st in Series  
Traveling Life Press (November 28, 2019) 
Print Length ~200 Pages 
Who knew a New Year’s trip to Budapest could be so deadly? The tour must go on – even with a killer in their midst…
Recent divorcee Lana Hansen needs a break. Her luck has run sour for going on a decade, ever since she got fired from her favorite job as an investigative reporter. When her fresh start in Seattle doesn’t work out as planned, Lana ends up unemployed and penniless on Christmas Eve.
Dotty Thompson, her landlord and the owner of Wanderlust Tours, is also in a tight spot after one of her tour guides ends up in the hospital, leaving her a guide short on Christmas Day.
When Dotty offers her a job leading the tour group through Budapest, Hungary, Lana jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect way to ring in the new year and pay her rent!
What starts off as the adventure of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare when Carl, her fellow tour guide, is found floating in the Danube River. Was it murder or accidental death? Suspects abound when Lana discovers almost everyone on the tour had a bone to pick with Carl.
But Dotty insists the tour must go on, so Lana finds herself trapped with nine murder suspects. When another guest turns up dead, Lana has to figure out who the killer is before she too ends up floating in the Danube…
Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.
Feel-good stories about friendship, travel, and celebrating new experiences. Coming soon: Books 2 and 3 in the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series!

About Jennifer S. Alderson

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.  

Author Links: 

Purchase Links Amazon COM Amazon Worldwide Amazon Author Page

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you so much, Kathy! I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip to Budapest. I really appreciate you being a part of this tour. Happy holidays!

  2. Thank you, Kathy, for the opportunity! I am excited to start this series!

  3. Hi Jennifer, thanks for stopping by! How much time do you spend reading cozy mysteries?

  4. I really enjoy cozies and mysteries. Thanks for this opportunity.

  5. Looks good! Thanks for the chance.