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After being in France for nearly two months, Fen Churche is excited to be heading home to England. With the aristocratic Captain James Lancaster in tow, she travels to the port of Le Havre to board the De Grasse, which will take them to Southhampton before heading on to New York.
The passengers are a mixed bunch of returning Allied servicemen and civilians. Amongst them are Genie, an aspiring actress; her fiancé, Spencer, a popular US radio entertainer; the wealthy and formidable Mrs. Mariella Archer; and Eloise, her niece. Fen and James become part of this group.
When James confesses that he's not ready to go home and has decided to carry on to New York with their new friends, Fen is surprised and disappointed. Although Fen is looking forward to seeing her parents and friends, an offer from Mrs. Archer persuades Fen to also remain with the ship.
It's not long before the peaceful voyage is disrupted. Mrs. Archer's jewels are stolen. While searching for them, Fen discovers a body in one of the lifeboats and when Genie is found strangled, Fen now has three crimes to solve. She does this in the way she solves the cryptic crossword puzzles she so enjoys.
Just like the other books in the series, I was thoroughly entertained by Fen's sleuthing adventures and the camaraderie that she shares with James. Their banter is witty and amusing, especially when the phrase "how rude" is thrown into the conversation. It always results in a giggle or two at an inappropriate moment. This time around the story is also peppered with lots of raised eyebrows and winking, which also adds to the fun.
While this is a cozy mystery, it does touch on some serious aspects of the aftermath of the war: how Germans were viewed and the grab for their scientific and technological research.
As to the solving of the jewel theft and the murders, I had no idea who was responsible. The reveal came as a big surprise, but was totally credible.
This is a wonderful mystery series. I'm looking forward to the next instalment.
I received a complimentary copy of this book as a participant in a book blog tour.
That comment could be applied to both the authoress and her 'heroine'.
The story line is unbelievable and there is no real mystery for very long because you have to be dozing not to have guessed what is going on half-way into the tale - which is a good job because the so-called detective is more concerned with her clothes, hairdo, deck games and drinks/meals than she is at solving mysteries.
What really grates, however, is not that this just another 'fab young girl' tale, but that the research is truly awful, and if there was any editorial involvement I do wonder where, because there are quite a few non sequiturs.
Research: quite a few characters speak French - but they generally don't do it well, because they have the ability of 'that idiot who thinks he can speak French'. Can the author be so idle that she cannot type the French and German language into a language app. to have it checked? There are so many schoolgirl howlers that it makes one cringe. And are we to believe that a second class passenger had no access at all on an Atlantic crossing ship of this class to a bath during her whole voyage? If so, something should have been made of it.
Editorial - did anyone read this? At one point the 'heroine' sits down at the bar, then 2 pages later she is still on her feet and sits down again. In another chapter she and her sidekick go to lunch in the 2nd class restaurant - despite the fact that (in order to allow the heroine to dine with the other passengers she is interacting with) 1st and 2nd class passengers are dining together on this voyage in the 1st class restaurant, so the 2nd class one cannot be open, surely - albeit that2nd and 1st dining together is not to be believed anyway, and is clearly contrived to allow the heroine to travel 2nd and yet dine in 1st. Nonsense.
It might also have been interesting to learn how the shipping line obtained so much gourmet food when the ship originated in France and passed through England, neither of which was at that time awash in food at all.
With a bit more intelligence and research this could have been a reasonable, average read, if nowhere near the Agatha Christie class. A missed opportunity to my mind.
Please don't write any more like this - I might buy one by mistake, like this one.
Another great Fen Churche mystery. I find Fliss Chester's protagonist really engaging and am enjoying her viewpoint and characterisation. This time Fen finds herself on a luxury ocean liner en route for New York. Mysteries abound and Fen's detective skills are stretched to the limit as she uses her sharp brain to fathom out the murderer. Fliss's research is excellent and I really felt myself aboard that ship. Will Fen and the lovely James get together? I hope so! I can't wait to read the next novel to find out.