Monday, March 6, 2017
Murder on the Oceanic by Conrad Allen
Murder on the Oceanic by Conrad Allen (Minotaur, 2006)
Set sail on board the Oceanic, and join the ship's two detectives, Englishwoman Genevieve Masefield and American George Porter Dillman, on their latest adventure on the high seas. Posing as single passengers who are traveling separately in order to work more effectively as a covert team of sleuths aboard the luxurious ocean liner - although Masefield and Dillman are happily married - the sophisticated pair is sailing from Southampton, England, to New York City in the spring of 1910.
The Oceanic is also carrying a colorful assortment of passengers and crewmembers. An important short list from among the thousands of passengers includes the following: The elegantly attired and rather naïve Blanche Charlbury and her protective fiancé, Mark Bossingham; the unprincipled womanizer, Jonathan Killick; the lackluster couple from New York City, Ethan and Rosalie Boyd; and the controversial Welsh artist, painter of provocative nudes, Abednego Thomas who is traveling with his intriguing wife, Veronica, and his voluptuous model, Dominique Cadine. Several of the more significant crew members are also worth noting: the conscientious purser Lester Hembrow, and three colorful and resourceful ship's stewards, Edith Hurst, Manny Ellway, and Sidney Browne. Finally - by the way - the Oceanic is carrying one other rather noteworthy passenger: the internationally famous financier and business tycoon, J. P. Morgan.
As Masefield and Dillman quickly realize, the infamous Morgan is going to become the center of a dangerous maelstrom through which the Oceanic and the detectives must navigate. With an impressive treasure trove of valuable objets d'art in his stateroom, the arrogant and fractious Morgan remains indifferent to the ship's detectives' concerns about the security of his property; ignoring Masefield's and Dillman's advice, Morgan is determined to rely exclusively upon his own security specialist, Howard Riedel, a former New York City cop with a very unpleasant personality.
However, when some passengers' jewels and personal property are stolen, when items worth more than half a million dollars are stolen from Morgan, and when someone is found to have been brutally murdered in someone's stateroom, Masefield and Dillman find themselves embroiled in one of their most difficult and dangerous cases.
This enjoyable romp - recommended reading for anyone who takes pleasure in good old fashioned escapist mysteries - is Conrad Allen's seventh mystery featuring the elegant and charming duo of Masefield and Dillman. All of Allen's entertaining tales are set aboard some of the most famous luxury liners of the early twentieth century, and Murder on the Oceanic - like its predecessors - is undeniably enjoyable.