“Book Review: The Bellhop Only Stalks Once”
Reviewed by Steph Huddleston
An irresistible mystery set in the Costa Rican jungle
Author Cat Hickey has crafted a charming mystery that intrigues from the very start. Chloe is a woman looking for an escape from her life and her overbearing fiancée. To find some solace and assess the direction her life is heading, she travels to Costa Rica to unwind and reset. Instead of relaxation, she finds herself pestered by a bellhop who’s taken a shining to her. It’s a relief of sorts when the bellhop disappears, however unusual the circumstances. As more bellhops begin disappearing, Chloe can’t help but feel there’s something more going on. This isn’t the relaxing holiday she imagined.
The Bellhop Only Stalks Once brings Costa Rica to life with vivid descriptions of place. Hickey describes the action of the plot with precision, capturing the readers’ imagination with crystal clear imagery. And thanks to its excellent pace, the novel turns out to be a quick and enjoyable read.
“It was like slogging through treacle, what with the large number of annoyed tourists seemingly intent on taking up as much space as possible and generally trying to get in the way of everyone else while they were at it.”
The character of Chloe, though at times perhaps naive, is intensely likable. She’s the type of person to go on holiday and befriend almost everyone she meets. Staff and guests of the resort included. She is not a typical detective, motivated by mystery and intellectual problem-solving. Rather, her compassion and adventurous spirit drive her actions throughout the novel. The reader desires to see her succeed, not only in solving the mystery but in resolving her life issues.
This journey of self-discovery for Chloe is almost as large a part of the plot as the mystery itself. It’s nice to read a mystery that is driven by both character and plot.
To me, where The Bellhop Only Stalks Once falls short is in its handling of secondary characters. Aside from Chloe, the background of other characters is often only touched upon. They lack depth as a whole and their motivations for actions are often ill-explained. Also, the catalyst of the story is the disappearance of the first bellhop. Yet, I was unable to relate to Chloe’s concern for him because of his harassment of her earlier on in the story. Chloe describes his harassment as “pesky,” but he refuses to take her lack of romantic interest in him for an answer. Throughout the novel, he is described as a stalker, and Chloe’s acceptance of his inappropriate behavior may make readers uncomfortable.
Even so, The Bellhop Only Stalks Once could really leave a lot of readers satisfied, too. The mystery is intriguing, as is the development of Chloe’s personal life decisions.
Paperback: 239 pages
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