Murder on the Minneapolis

Written by Anita Davison
Review by Geoffrey Harfield

Never before have I read about a transatlantic crossing with so many murders. In 1902, the Minneapolis, a small cargo and passenger ship passes Newfoundland on the Great Circle route, noted for storms and icebergs. In the stuffy, polite atmosphere, innocent Flora, a governess returning to England with her charge, Eddy, discovers the body of a man in evening dress. After a slow start, the story develops well until the dead man’s partner emerges. Then she is found stabbed and Eddy finds an oriental dagger. It soon becomes a likeable, easy-to-read novel of quest for murderers. The passengers, all in first-class suites, are uncomfortable even whilst investigating a murder. Then there is another, and another murder… Oh! I’ve lost count of the murders and all the new characters.

Flora meets a Mr Harrington, called Bunny, who is concerned about Matilda in the ship’s hold. Despite the murder investigations, Flora and Bunny hit it off. Have we a love story as well as murders?

There are many passengers with good characterisations. Some remember the first dead man as a gambler and womaniser. As varied passengers, including helpful foreigners, pearl-bedecked double-barrelled dowagers and eager young mashers dart from suite to suite in their investigations, there is ‘man overboard’ called. But it’s not a man but another young woman.

The book has some good turns of phrase, and there is romance in the air as Flora’s ‘insides turn to water’ as she pals up with wealthy Bunny Harrington as sleuth and assistant. Matilda, in the hold, is Harrington’s Daimler and, in Liverpool, two of the apparently innocent passengers are taken away by police.