The setting is a transatlantic crossing during the late 1920s. The passenger list includes a young Balkan monarch in mufti, a Theda Bara-type star, a fortune-hunting bogus Count, a German governess, a group of anarchists, and a British agent incognito. And if all this sounds very much like early Agatha Christie (with some touches that go all the way back to Conan Doyle), first-novelist Beck tackles the antique scenario with unfussy energy and light, stylish period-flavor. The murder victim? Mr. Twist, the aide to a strange, bearded professor, is found stabbed to death in his deck chair. The heroine? A spunky young American girl, of course: Iris, who's traveling the world with a benevolent aunt. . . and finds her sleuthing somewhat hindered by her attraction to the ship's enigmatic, handsome pianoplayer. But her fellow-detective, cocky American reporter Jack Clancy, stays gungho on the trail of the many exotic suspects--and there's a second stabbing, plus lots of talk about blackmail, before Iris gets the inspiration that nails the murderer. Good clean fun, in the most old-fashioned mystery vein--but written without a hint of camp or pretension.