Murder on the Celtic (Ocean Liner Mysteries, 8)

Written by Edward Marston
Review by Douglas Kemp

1910. Here we are for the eighth episode for the ocean detectives George Porter Dillman and his wife Genevieve, known professionally by her original family name Masefield. Travelling separately, they both work the first-class lounges aboard the Celtic on the voyage from New York to London, providing security for the wealthy and privileged passengers. This voyage is notable for the presence of Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife Jean, who are well portrayed and figure in the plot. Spiritualism plays a role onboard as well as the desperate situation of steerage passengers who were refused admittance to the U.S. at Ellis Island and were returned to the poverty and poor prospects of their lives back in Europe. The denouement is excellent and clever – I certainly did not foresee the solution.

This is the final volume in the series – perhaps understandably, with the difficulty of coming up with new plot ideas and scenarios in the constricted environment of luxury ocean travel without too much wearying repetition. Genevieve is so beautiful that she is always the constant object of lustful attention from a number of male passengers, which again gets a little tedious on every voyage – both for her and the reader.  Our two privileged ocean detectives are left to sail into the sunset enjoying their élite existence. I just hope that in some alternative fictional universe they did not decide to join the Titanic’s maiden voyage as onboard detectives just two years later!