Murder on the high seas

Edward Marston is a prolific writer of light detective novels set in different historical periods. I enjoy his writing and have picked up many of his novels in charity shops and cheap second hand bookshops. You can read my review of his series set in Norman Britain here, Elizabethan theatre here and the Victorian railways here. Murder on the Salsette is from a series new to me where the books feature detectives aboard the ocean liners before WW1.

Actually, murder is just one of the things that occurs on the voyage which needs the attention of our detective duo Genevieve and George who are recently married but posing as two single people to double the chances of finding criminals. There is a series of thefts, a young person possibly travelling against their will, a possible con artist telling fortunes, people who are a little too lucky at cards and, of course, a murder. The detectives have to mix with the passengers and find out what has happened without having their true role discovered. The cruise line also needs them to keep news of the murdered man quiet.

The cruise liner is a very small area in which to have so many crimes and possible crimes, although several of them do turn out to be connected. It is also difficult to get to the bottom of a murder rooted in the past of the victim without access to records and lots of people to interview, although fortunately all their clues are available by talking to other passengers who knew the murdered man in the past. There are a few too many coincidences like this to overcome the limitations of the settings – you just have to accept this when reading.

This book is as entertaining as I have learned to expect from this author although I had hoped for more background information about how a cruise liner of the time operated. All the loose ends are nicely tied up by the end of the book and the author addresses a few social issues on the way. This is not a great book or even a particularly memorable one but it is enjoyable and the cover is beautiful.

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