When Yiddish Bulldog, Hymie Stiehl, accepts an all-expenses vacation for two as a gift from a friend for solving a baffling mystery, the amateur sleuth decides to take his partner, D. J., on a cruise to the island of Belize. En-route, they stumble upon the murder of German industrialist Elgar Hammington, apparent committed during an act of shipside burglary in one of the staterooms. A search of the ship turns up no sign of the stolen goods, and Mrs. Hammington, in appreciation for his sincerity and care, insists upon paying Stiehl for his efforts. When Stiehl declines, she invites Stiehl and D.J. to unwind at the family's island estate when the ship hits port.
But two days out from shore, Interpol boards the vessel and conducts extensive interviews. They turn up a canceled check on the deceased, showing that he had been active in a swinging e-group and had befriended one woman in particular, a swinging single named Monique. Hymie, taking a cue from his findings, uses the man's cyber identity to get on-line and learns that the deceased had sent an e-mail from the ship to his secret gal-pal, saying when he would be arriving in Belize, where she lived. The e-mail had been sent just minutes before the man was killed.
All eyes turn to a jealous wife; but when she passes a lie-detector test with flying colors, Interpol and Hymie summarily dismiss her as innocent, her deceased husband merely a helpless victim of random crime. It begins to look more and more as if they are right: apparently, Stiehl reasons, the husband had discovered the burglar in the act of stealing nearly $90,000 in cash and jewels, and the husband was killed as a result.
But the deceased's contact with his swinger friend on Belize leaves Hymie uneasy. “If it looks too coincidental,” he tells D. J., “it is.” Once on the island, he and D. J. look up Monique and learn that she had started a clandestine affair with the deceased the last time he had been in Belize. This trip was a roundabout way of attempting to persuade the man's wife to join them in a threesome--an idea she had turned down on several occasions before.
As the Belize authorities take over the investigation, Hymie learns that the Hammingtons had brought the wife’s adult son from a previous marriage on the cruise with them--presumably it was to be nothing more than a family vacation in the islands. Hymie also learns that the son, who seemed genuinely sorry that his stepfather had been killed, suffers from multiple personality syndrome. Could the kid have been the thief/murderer? A search of the ship's casino log shows that he had run up more than $20,000 in gambling debts--a sum he had no apparent way of paying off without help. Had he seen an opportunity to get the money to cover his debt and taken it--only to have been caught in the act? When Interpol discovers that the son had made a deposit of more than $30,000 in cash mere hours following his stepfather's death, the noose tightens.
But Hymie is not satisfied. Why would a kid who seems so fond of his stepfather kill him ... even if he had been discovered in the act of stealing? The stepfather was very well off, so it didn't make sense, when a man-to-man talk would have accomplished as much and possibly more.
Hymie continues to suspect the widow, although D. J. points out that it couldn't be her, since she passed the polygraph test. Still, Hymie continues to chip away, finally turning up more Internet records, and, after a frantic search of the island in which the son turns up dead, begins to think that the murderer couldn't possibly be the widow. What mother in her right mind would kill her own son ... and why?
The answer becomes clear once Hymie runs a medical-records check on the person he suddenly realizes is the real killer, although not the thief. Strange bedfellows present themselves to the Yiddish Bulldog in the wildest conclusion of any mystery novel ever ... and Hymie and his journalism-professor sidekick solve the murder case of the decade ... in spades!
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