Murder on the Mauretania (Ocean Liner Mysteries, 2)

Written by Edward Marston
Review by Douglas Kemp

November 1907 and the huge ocean liner, the Mauretania, makes her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York. The Mauretania is the sister vessel to the Lusitania, which only made her first voyage to the United States two months previously. This is the second in Marston’s Ocean Liner series, the first of which was about Lusitania’s eventful journey. The main protagonists return—George Porter Dillman as a plain clothes security officer employed by Cunard to keep an eye on passengers in second class, and his colleague Genevieve Masefield, who is hired following Dillman’s recommendation to do the same for the first-class travellers. The opening of the story follows the same pattern to the first novel in the series with Dillman and Masefield cultivating relationships with the ship’s passengers as well as their own clandestine romantic affair. A series of thefts creates unease and unhappiness on the vessel, and both our protagonists are busy in their duties while maintaining their façade.

As ever, Marston’s research is accurate and superbly deployed. As with the first book in the series, the murder does not take place until mid-way through the text, but the narrative drive and historical context means that the story is more than just a conventional murder mystery, with all sorts of plot strands weaving together to provide an absorbing and entertaining story of life on a trans-Atlantic luxury liner.