Prolonging the season for doomed luxury liners, Allen sets this mild diversion on the Lusitania’s 1907 maiden voyage. The trip begins in Liverpool for American George Porter Dillman, the former Pinkerton man hired by the ship’s owners, the Cunards, to act as undercover security operative. Dillman’s is the eye through which we view self-important British chauvinist Matthew Rymer, his docile wife Sylvia and unhappy adult daughter Violet; Philip Garrow, the (Irish!) swain whose attentions quickly stray toward handsome widow Rosemary Hilliard when he is deemed unworthy of Violet; gorgeous fortune-hunter Genevieve Masefield, who trains her guns on tobacco baron Percy Carradine; a world-famous violinist, a surly “prophet of doom” named Jeremiah; and an annoying journalist, Henry Barcroft. Sorting out the large cast and providing endless details about the cut of the Lusitania’s jib and the ship’s designated function—to retrieve from Cunard’s (primarily German) rivals the “Blue Riband” denoting the fastest Atlantic crossing—takes longer than the crossing itself, postponing for much of the novel’s length both the title act and a series of satellite thefts (including that of a priceless Stradivarius) presumably intended to flush out the ship’s detective. But the dashing George Dillman prevails. A bit underplotted, but Allen, in his maiden voyage under his own colors, offers a smooth style and a firm grasp of period language and detail that make for a generally entertaining trip.