Murder on the Oceanic
It is always with joyful anticipation that I set sail on a pre-WWI liner with ship detectives George P. Dillman and Genevieve Masefield, and I have yet to be disappointed. Conrad Allen has the knack of describing each ship with its own history and personality, while conveying the luxury and elegance of these grand vessels and the laid-back and slightly decadent lifestyle aboard them. Allen also excels in mixing fictional and real life characters.
In this outing, the story centers around the notoriously rich J.P. Morgan, who is the victim of nasty crimes. Several first-class passengers also suffer from various thefts, keeping the ship’s detectives quite busy while wondering whether all those crimes are related. George and Genevieve introduce us to a variety of colorful characters: a painter of loose morals, his wife and his model, a renowned couturier, a diplomat and his betrothed, two journalist sisters, among others. Even the staff is well-depicted and plays a vital part in the story.
The mystery fits well with the setting: muted violence, slow sleuthing, smooth writing. In short, this is a welcome escape to a genteel world.