A Great Lakes cruise seems the perfect summer getaway for sleuthing Chicago spinster Emily Charters, who hopes it might also soothe the grief of her young friend Lynn Francis, whose longtime lesbian lover has recently died. But many of the other passengers and crew seem far from friendly or happy to be aboard. Some are unnervingly secretive. Beautiful Claudia Trenton, who finds fault with many aspects of the cruise, remains aloof from the others. At the other end of the spectrum is noisy busybody Muriel Langstrom, who can clear a room faster than a skunk. Demanding Marcella Hemsley drives her shy young niece and companion Rebecca to frequent tears with her abuse. And on and on. Lynn develops a bit of a crush on Rebecca, who responds warmly to her kindness. So when Marcella is found murdered in her cabin and Rebecca arrested for the killing, Emily takes more than an academic interest in solving the crime. Fortunately, the detective in charge is Jeremy Ransom, Emily’s partner in crime-solving on eight previous cases (The Mummy’s Ransom, 2002, etc.). Their investigation unfolds in the old-fashioned manner, with a parade of interviews, each followed by the comparing of notes, with much discussion of the crime scene’s characteristics and the comings and goings of the suspect passengers—and of two overfriendly stewards named David and Hoke, stiff Captain Farraday and his sneering wife Samantha, and the frail but shrewd Lily DuPree.
A crisp, traditional whodunit with amusing character portraits and a satisfying finale.