Murder on the Celtic: A Mystery Hardcover – Feb 6 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
A dangerous fugitive and a series of thefts mar a voyage the Celtic makes in 1910 from New York to London in Allen's satisfying eighth shipboard mystery to feature the husband-wife detective team of Bostonian George Porter Dillman and Englishwoman Genevieve Masefield (after 2006's Murder on the Oceanic). While the lovely Genevieve fends off suitors vying for her affections (the pair conceal their marriage supposedly for more efficient sleuthing), she and George are on the lookout for Edward Hammond, a thief wanted for murder who might have sneaked on board. Among the legitimate first-class passengers is novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose cherished first edition of his novel A Study in Scarlet—which introduced the character of Sherlock Holmes—goes missing. The light, well-executed plot will live up to the expectations of Allen's fans. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This is one of those series that one wouldn't have expected to go on as long as it has. George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield are happily married, although when they're at work, as detectives aboard transatlantic cruise ships in the early years of the twentieth century, they pretend not to know each other. The series, of which this is the eighth installment, follows a fairly strict formula: Dillman and Masefield solve a murder onboard an ocean liner while juggling various complications and trying to find a spare moment to be alone together. But it's a formula that leaves plenty of room for variation, and here the variation is that our heroes must deal with the galumphing enthusiasm of Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, who absolutely insists on assisting them. The Dillman-Masefield series succeeds, despite the built-in repetitiveness, because its creator, the prolific mystery novelist Edward Marston, writing here under a pseudonym, is such a graceful stylist. In his hands, elegant shipboard mysteries with charming protagonists never grow old. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The most famous passenger of all is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who ironically is the victim of the first theft on board the ship. His first edition autographed book A STUDY IN SCARLET with notes in the pages is stolen. Tragedy strikes when Jane Lowbury reports her husband David missing after she sent him to get her heart pills from their cabin. Evidence points to the fact that he was thrown overboard. A rash of robberies lead the ship's detectives to believe that Edward Hammond is responsible but they don't know what he looks like, what class passage he is staying at, or who his contacts are. It takes excellent detective work to break this case wide open.
There is a lot of activity going on this ocean voyage. Readers get a look at how people cope in steerage and how arrivals report at Ellis Island. One group even made a bet as to who could make Genevieve fall for him first. Ironically a passenger in steerage and one of Genevieve's suitors point the detectives in the right direction to find the killer. This is a great sea cruise mystery.
In this particular book, two passengers have bet on which one of them can win Genevieve Massfield's affections first, thinking she's single. Toward the end of the book she's able to announce to them both, with her husband present, that's she's a ship detective and that she's married to the other ship detective. That was a great scene. And giving it away is not a spoiler so don't worry about that. That information will not spoil the plot for anyone at all. I had no idea who the murderer, and in this case also the thief, was and I don't think most readers will be able to guess either. There is also a medium aboard ship and a séance scene. I loved that.
There is an entire series featuring this married couple, George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Massfield and I'd like to read the rest of the series as well. I enjoyed this, anyone who like Victorian or Edwardian books that take place on the wonderful passenger ships of days gone by or who like a really good cozy mystery - will love this book. I highly recommend it.
On this voyage of the Celtic, the pair had been warned that a well known thief was rumored to be on the voyage and that the celebrated author and lecturer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, was also sailing. Despite the Dillmans' best efforts Sir Arthur and several other passengers could all too soon attest that a thief had definitely come on board. Even more distressing was the disappearance of another passenger, a man on his honeymoon who seems to have been attacked and thrown overboard. This voyage is quickly becoming one of the more challenging for the pair, will they be able to sort everything out before they reach their destination?
This series follows a very predictable pattern, thefts and murder occur on the ship, George and Genevieve must solve the crimes before the ship docks and culprits escape while attempting to keep their true identities as detectives secret. As is often the case with a cozy series the mystery aspect is secondary to the 'subplot' of the recurring characters ongoing story. With this series the only recurring characters are George and Genevieve which further limits the possibilities. With a less skilled author this series would quickly grow stale but Allen manages to keep the reader entertained with an ongoing parade of passengers and crew. That these characters seem to be the familiar ones we have all met before in other books and films only adds to the fun. This is a delightful series with which to spend a few hours.
And seeing this is the last in the series, there is absolutely no sense of closure with our main protagonists. I really wish Conrad Allen had continued on for at least another book or two and written a murder mystery for George and Genevieve on the Titanic. Maybe that was his intention at some point, but the particulars proved too daunting (Like how to have George survive without looking like a heel or a coward. And, no, I doubt it's to come since this book was written nearly ten years ago.). Perhaps, readers are to surmise George and Genevieve were onboard and didn't survive. Who knows? This book is just a real letdown as a conclusion for an enjoyable series.