When Lady Swift embarks upon her first luxury cruise she imagines a gilded ballroom, afternoons on deck taking tea and all the delectable food she can eat. But she can’t seem to escape from murder…
Lady Eleanor Swift is all set to spend her birthday with her beau, dashing Detective Hugh Seldon, until he calls to cancel on her again at the last minute. What’s a girl to do? Pack up her staff and her faithful old bulldog, Gladstone, and head off on a cruise to New York, that’s what!
On the stunningly opulent ocean liner Celestiana, Eleanor tries to forget her worries and make the most of her trip. That is, until she sees a man being shot and falling overboard. On closer inspection of the scene, Eleanor literally stumbles over the likely murder weapon. And the nick in the barrel is unmistakeable: this gun belongs to Detective Seldon…
With some discreet digging, Clifford discovers Detective Seldon is aboard the ship on an undercover mission. Eleanor doesn’t want to make waves but she’s sure that something fishy is going on and he’s being framed. To get Seldon off the hook, Eleanor casts her net wide and searches for the real murderer among a sea of suspects including European nobility, Italian opera stars and American nouveau riche. But does the victim’s expensive gold ring point to a lavish lifestyle or is it a red herring?
When another passenger is found dead in his first-class cabin, a poisoned whisky glass clutched in his hand, Eleanor realises they are really in hot water. Will the killer be Eleanor’s catch of the day, or will she spend her birthday at the bottom of the sea?
A totally charming, unputdownable Golden Age mystery with characters readers will adore. Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Lee Strauss.
I was so pleased to be asked to be on the Book Tour for the latest Eleanor Swift Mystery, Death on Deck, the 13th volume in the series. If you have the time, check out the other blogs participating in this book tour. I’ve made some new book-loving friends which is great! It was not that long ago I reviewed Murder in an Irish Castle (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery #12) and was thoroughly charmed by this new-to-me series.
Death on Deck (Amazon) First thing’s first: you do not have to have read the previous Eleanor Swift mysteries in order to read Death on Deck. Each book is written like a standalone novel. That’s one of the reasons I found myself liking this series. It doesn’t matter that I started this series on volume 12; all the information I needed was provided with a brief backstory explaining Lady Eleanor’s situation.
This volume has Eleanor, her ever-faithful butler, Clifford, her dog Gladstone, and her house staff traveling to America aboard the Celestiana, a luxury cruise ship on its maiden voyage. Eleanor was invited by the Blue Star Line’s owner because of her reputation as a fiercely independent woman who has solved many mysteries, and being a Lady doesn’t hurt, either. Also on board, unbeknownst to Eleanor at the beginning of the cruise, is her beau, Chief Inspector Hugh Seldon. Hugh had cancelled his plans to spend time with Eleanor on her birthday, which led to Eleanor accepting the invite to cruise on her birthday. Why is Hugh on the ship, and why didn’t he tell Eleanor? That’s all part of the mystery.
The first night on board the ship, Eleanor heads out for a midnight stroll and see two figures in shadow in the distance. One has a gun. The next thing she knows, the gun goes off, and one of the men goes overboard. Eleanor rushes over to the scene of the crime, only to discover a gun she recognizes as that of her boyfriend, Hugh. She finds him in second class, woefully seasick, not realizing his gun was missing.
It turns out Hugh is not on a case, not officially, anyway. His wife’s unsolved murder some years prior has always been a source of angst for him. He’s taken time off of work, spent his savings on a ticket for this cruise, following the man he thinks killed his wife. Now the problem is that the man overboard turns out to be his suspect, and his gun was used to kill the man. Someone is trying to frame Hugh, but who on the cruise knows of the connection? Lady Eleanor is on the case.
As Eleanor investigates, another man is found murdered, putting the pressure on her to find the murderer before anyone else gets hurt, and before the ship docks in New York in just a few days.
I found this book charming as a cozy mystery should be. The resourceful Clifford aids Eleanor with all things, including remedies for seasickness for Hugh, as well as making sure Lady Eleanor wants for nothing, as usual. This is my first introduction to Chief Inspector Hugh Seldon, and I have to say, he does not come off well during the first half of the book. I don’t know if it was because of the seasickness making him fairly helpless, but I couldn’t see why Eleanor was so taken with him. However, as the book progresses, I began to see what all the fuss was about. By the end, I was definitely in the team Hugh camp!
There are a few chapters that are crucial to the plot, where Eleanor, Hugh, and Clifford go over the clues they’ve picked up. I found this to be rather helpful to the overall story. I do have to say I guessed the guilty party based upon a thrown-away comment that turned out to be important to solving the case, which is the sign of a good mystery writer. Usually I don’t pick up on those things, but luck was on my side this time. The journey to get to the main suspect was still a thrill ride even though I guessed correctly.
As a whole, Death on Deck is the sort of mystery I like to read. Great characterization, great time period (1923), a plot that doesn’t meander or plod along, a locked room mystery in the spirit of Agatha Christie. Highly recommend!
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture, NetGalley and the authors in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s. Find them on Twitter.
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Thanks so much, Jennifer! And well done for guessing the culprit!
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