A decorously criminal passage to Port Said, circa 1908.
For a change of pace, ship’s detectives George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield forsake the Cunard line in favor of the P&O, whose smallish (500 passengers) Marmora, bound for Australia, will stop first in Marseilles, Port Said, and various ports of call in the southern hemisphere. By the time they’ve cleared Gibraltar, the ship has racked up three robberies and a murder. In addition, Genevieve’s ex-fiancé is aboard, and although the purser’s assistant is very helpful, the purser himself is extremely hostile. Whatever will the Royals aboard think! Mostly sticking to their cabins except for a daily constitutional, George and Genevieve concentrate on a surly German photographer, a boisterous French chef, a minor member of the English peerage, and a Harrow/Oxford expellee as possible thieves of jewels, cash, and Egyptian relics while comforting spinster sisters, an Egyptologist and his family, and an imposing Teutonic widow on their losses and arranging for the body of man-about-town Walter Dugdale to be quietly offloaded when the ship docks in Marseilles. By the time George and Genevieve ask the captain to marry them as Port Said looms ahead, several shipboard assignations later, the Marmora’s holding cells will be full.
Despite piano-flute duets, white-tie dinners, and the dashing good looks of George and Genevieve, the voyage isn’t nearly as entertaining or puzzling as their sailings aboard the Cunard line (Murder on the Caronia, 2003, etc.).