All the three sisters want is pleasant company and a little pampering on a luxury cruise ship—not a murderer for a shipmate.
After the funeral of an elderly relative brings Hannah Ives and her sisters, Georgina and Ruth, together for a few hours’ respite from their busy lives, they enjoy the reunion so much that they decide to book an eight-day cruise from Baltimore to Bermuda on the Phoenix Islander. Although they agree that it’s sisters only, at the last minute, Georgina has to bring along her 14-year-old daughter, Julie. The first hint of a crack in the Islander’s glamorous veneer comes from the ship’s magician’s assistant, who warns the three sisters to take extra care of Julie. Adding to their unease is a fellow passenger wandering about with a red shoe, a broken heart and an unanswered question about the death of his daughter, who worked for one of the other Phoenix liners and knew about some unsavory goings-on. When Julie is drugged, attacked and abandoned on a lower deck, the sisters vow to trap an assailant whose identity ought to be more obvious to them than it is. The lovingly detailed descriptions of spa sessions and dinner parties that pad the slender plot prove no substitute for suspense.
Although Talley (The Last Refuge, 2012, etc.) has a knack for sketching character and setting, this voyage is only mildly diverting.