Firstly, I would like to thank Aster Press for sending me this book for review. That in no way influences my review, as I liked some aspects and disliked others, and what follows is an honest review of this novel.
This charming and suspenseful crime novel revolves around a diverse set of guests aboard a luxury cruise liner at the height of the Great Depression and the events that unfold aboard the ship. A young and glamorous duchess is found murdered halfway through the voyage and everyone is a suspect. Anyone, from the young Broadway duo to the sour, old dowager, from an old Vaudeville partner to a resentful young step-daughter, or from a flamboyant French designer to a former jewelry thief, Guy Travers, a Scotland Yard inspector, is forced to find the killer among the ship’s elite before he or she strikes again. The story is filled with suspense and suspicion as both character and reader try to figure out who the killer is in this mystery.
What I Liked:
- Character Building: The characters were very well-developed and portrayed in a convincing way. They were each unique and layered with their own issues and nuances, making it a very diverse cast for the story.
- Writing Style: Beaumont’s writing style was very atmospheric and helped create the mood throughout the story. Every scene had a purpose with regards to showing a certain aspect of the characters and propelling the story forward. It also built up the suspense and mystery surrounding the main event in the story (i.e. the duchess’s murder) and kept the story interesting.
- Place & Time: I loved the fact that the story was set aboard a cruise ship, rather than your typical “it was the butler with the candlestick in the library” sort of setting for a mystery. I also liked the fact that it was very immersive with regards to the era it was set in, i.e. The Great Depression, and the characters fit in very well with the setting.
What I Disliked:
- Lack of Setting Description: One thing I disliked was the lack of description with regards to the setting. There was a bit of description in passing, but if it weren’t for the dialogue, we wouldn’t really know what the ship looked like. The characters were described with great detail, but the environment itself wasn’t and the fact that the story unfurled aboard a ship in the middle of the ocean was one of the most appealing aspects for me, personally, so I would have loved to get a better mental picture of the setting itself.
- Pace: The pace of the story was rather slow and although many little things happen throughout the first part of the story, leading up to the murder, I found myself waiting and waiting for it to happen, so that I could get to the actual mystery part of the story.
- Switching Between Characters: Although the story was written from the perspective of a third person omniscient narrator, the abrupt switches between who the narrator was talking about were very confusing. I had to go back and check who was doing or saying what at which point several times and it made it difficult to keep up with the narrative.
I give this book a hearty 3★s, as there are some aspects that I really liked and some that I didn’t. However, the story was interesting and different, and the suspense made me want to keep reading to unravel the mystery of the murder aboard the SS Good Ship Diamond Lollipops (I love that name, by the way).