J.P. Morgan’s newest art treasures fall victim to a shipboard heist.
Everyone from the lowliest steward to the usually unflappable purser hopes to catch the eye of White Star line nabob J.P. Morgan when he boards the Oceanic at Cherbourg. Against all advice, the irascible banker festoons his stateroom with his new French purchases, including a Renoir, a Manet and a handsomely illustrated Book of Hours. His own security man, Howard Riedel, will oversee their safety. All goes well until Riedel has his throat slit and the art goes missing. Whodunit? Shipboard detectives George Porter Dillman and his wife Genevieve Masefield (Murder on the Salsette, 2005, etc.) skulk among the first-class passengers to find out. Poor, luscious Genevieve is hampered by the attentions of a roué and sidetracked by some less consequential thefts—diamond earbobs, a gold bracelet, a man’s billfold. And one member of an artistic mènage-à-trois sidles up to George and distracts him. Still, the pair manage to sort out the various felonies and return all belongings to the interested parties before the ship docks in New York.
Continuing in his locked-stateroom tradition, Allen savors the opulence of the early-20th century, romance on the high seas and a cast of impeccably gowned and bejeweled suspects.