We had never heard of Cecilia Velástegui before we attended the mystery authors panel at LiteraryOrange, but after reading her latest book, Missing in Machu Picchu, we are glad we did. She gave everyone who attended a copy and we thoroughly enjoyed it, though we didn't like everyone in it.
The story contrasts two old Peruvian/Incan women, Taki and Koyam, and a gaggle of American women who are "Ivy League educated" empty-headed morons. The setting is the Inca Trail that leads to Machu Picchu. The villain is a self-deluded womanizing hunk named Rodrigo who Taki and Koyam know to be a complete scoundrel, and they decide to follow the Americans when they go off on a hike with him as their trail guide.
Taki and Koyam are wonderful. They are very different women but life-long friends who complement each other. Koyam is the keeper of ancient secrets, and uses that knowledge to help the Americans. Unfortunately, we all believed the women deserved everything that was about to happen to them. What a bunch of losers.
Why do we say that? Because most of these women are shallow, self-centered snobs. They stupidly believe an Ivy League diploma is a guarantee of superiority (they've obviously never talked to anyone outside their narrow circle of friends and acquaintances). And they are too dumb to detect a fake one. They came on this hike to break their habit of relying on online dating sites to find a man, though it isn't obvious why they think a strenuous hike in mountainous terrain in a totally foreign country will do that. They gripe when they don't have internet or cell phone signals. Each one of them is deluded enough to believe Rodrigo is their own personal replacement for the loser men they've been dating. Of course he plays on that perfectly, and because they are oblivious to everyone and everything around them, they can't see what would be obvious to someone who pays attention to their surroundings. We cheered when bad things happened to them.
We almost liked the woman who insisted the hike conform to the sales pitch, and who insists on taking the luxury train. Obnoxious as she was, at least she stood up for herself.
Taki and Koyam made the book. We decided people should read the sections about them, and skim the rest. And GoogleEarth the Inca Trail because it probably is a wonderful hike, if you go with a reliable guide.