Category Archives: Patricia Wentworth

Old Love*

Just because people break off relationships doesn’t mean they automatically stop caring for their exes. Sometime, the breakup is amicable, and the two people remain friends, or they are colleagues who can work together. Sometimes, one of the two wants to rekindle the romance. Other times, it’s just what you might call fond memories.

Whatever is the case, there is often a bond between former lovers. And that’s part of why we see so many crime novels in which an old flame asks the sleuth for help, or in which the sleuth offers help because of that former relationship. That trope can add tension to a story, as well as backstory on a character.

For instance, in Patricia Wentworth’s Grey Mask, Charles Moray returns to England after a four-year absence. The reason he left was mostly his breakup with his fiancée, Margaret Langton, but Moray’s trying not to let that prevent him from taking up his life again. He returns to his family home, only to find that it’s being used by a criminal gang led by a man called Grey Mask. Moray discovers that they seem to be planning to kidnap an heiress in order to get at her money. Worse, he sees that one of the people mixed up in this plot is his former fiancée. Moray doesn’t know at first whether Margaret is in danger or has willingly become a criminal. Either way, though, he worries for her, and decides to do some sleuthing. A friend gives him the name of Miss Maude Silver, and Moray goes to see her. With her help, and help from his friend, Archie Millar, Moray uncovers the truth about Grey Mask, the gang, and Margaret Langton.

Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael is a monk who lives and works in 12th-Century England. He joined the clergy a bit later in life than a lot of other monks, and so, has a past. And part of that past is a woman named Richildis, whom we meet in Monk’s Hood. In that novel, Brother Cadfael is called to the bedside of Gervase Bonel. That in itself isn’t surprising, as Cadfael is an herbalist. What is shocking is that Bonel has been poisoned by monkshood oil that was taken from Cadfael’s supplies. The first and most likely suspect is Bonel’s stepson (and Richildis’ son), Edwin. But Cadfael isn’t sure he’s guilty. So, in part because he cares about Richildis, Cadfael looks into the matter to find out who really killed the victim.

In Surender Mohan Pathak’s The Colaba Conspiracy, key maker and locksmith Jeet Singh is trying to live a ‘straight and narrow’ life after a career as a lockbreaker and safecracker. Now, he owns a Mumbai kiosk where he’s trying to make an honest, if not lucrative, living. One day, Singh gets the chance to earn a great deal of money by doing another underworld job, but he refuses. He thinks that will be the end of his lawbreaking days, until he gets a visit from a former lover, Sushmita.  She is in trouble and needs his help. It seems that her wealthy husband, Pursumal Changulani, was killed in what looked like a carjacking incident that went wrong. But other evidence suggests that this was a professional killing, and there is a suspicion that Sushmita hired the killer. She says that she is innocent and is being targeted by her stepchildren, who claim she was never legally married to their father and is therefore ineligible to inherit. In order to clear her name, and inherit, she’ll need a good lawyer, which she can’t afford. And she won’t have access to any of her husband’s money until the matter is resolved. Singh still has feelings for Sushmita. Besides, if she is innocent, she should be cleared of suspicion. So, he agrees to help. And that’s what pushes him to take on that one last illegal job – and gets him into grave danger.

Martin Edwards’ All the Lonely People features Liverpool solicitor Harry Devlin. He makes his living defending the ‘down and out’ people, so he’s not exactly getting rich. Still, he’s dedicated to doing the best job he can. One day, he gets a surprise visit from his ex-wife. Liz. She tells him that she’s run away from her current lover, Mick Coghlin, because she’s afraid of him. Then, she asks Devlin to let her stay with him for a few days. Devlin is hoping he and Liz can reconcile, so he agrees. Then, two nights later, Liz is murdered, and her body found in an alley. Devlin feels a burden of guilt, because he didn’t take her fears very seriously at first. Besides, he still cares about Liz. So, he decides to find out who murdered her. At first, it seems clear that Coghlin is the killer. But, as Devlin learns more about Liz’ last months and weeks, he also learns that there are other possibilities.

There’s an interesting case of an old flame in Dick Francis’ Whip Hand. Former jockey Sid Halley’s racing career ended when his left hand was permanently injured. Later (see Odds Against for the details) he lost that hand. With his riding days over, Halley’s become a racetrack investigator. In one plot thread of this novel, he is approached by his former father-in-law, Charles Roland. It seems that his daughter (and Halley’s ex-wife), Jenny, has gotten involved with a scam artist who calls himself Nicholas Ashe. His trick is to bilk people out of money using a fake charity, and now he’s used Jenny’s name in the scheme. This means that she’s under investigation for fraud. The only way to clear her name is to find Ashe, and that’s what Roland wants Halley to do. Halley ’s very reluctant at first. The divorce was a bitter one, and neither he nor Jenny want anything to do with each other. But Roland finally persuades Halley to look into the matter.

And that’s the thing about old loves and exes. Even after the relationship is over, there’s still often a bond. So, it’s not surprising that we see this plot point as often as we do in crime fiction.


*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of an Eric Clapton/Robert Cray song.  Happy Birthday, Mr. Clapton!


Filed under Dick Francis, Ellis Peters, Martin Edwards, Patricia Wentworth, Surender Mohan Pathak

But the Sailors Threw Him Overboard*

Most killers don’t want to be caught. So, they do whatever they can to hide the evidence. And that means they often have to do something about the body of the person they’ve killed. After all, with today’s technology, bodies often contain evidence that points to the murderer.

One way to deal with this, if you’re a killer (fictional only, of course!) is to commit the murder on board a boat or ship, so the victim, or at least the victim’s body, can go overboard. Of course, a lot of things have to fall into place for that sort of plan to work. But when it does, the murderer has a solid chance to get away with the crime. So, it’s little wonder that we see this in a lot of crime fiction. Here are just a few examples; I know you’ll think of more than I could.

In Patricia Wentworth’s Grey Mask, we are introduced to Margot Standing, an ingenuous and immature young woman whose very wealthy father, Edward, went overboard and was lost at sea. She now stands to inherit a fortune. But then, it comes out that she may not be eligible to inherit, and that her cousin, Egbert, may be the heir. The papers that would prove Edward Standing’s intent have disappeared, so there’s no easy way to determine who will get the money. Egbert suggests that he and Margot marry, but she refuses. When he insists, she refuses again, and leaves home. Unbeknownst to her, this puts her in danger from a gang led by a man named Grey Mask. They want to get rid of her, so they can get her money. Margot happens to meet Margaret Langton, who’s already mixed up with Grey Mask and his gang (‘though not in the obvious way). Margaret takes pity on the younger woman, and takes her in. And in the end, Margaret and her fiancé, Charles Moray, find a way to thwart Grey Mask.

Carl Hiaasen’s Skinny Dip introduces readers to Charles ‘Chaz’ Perrone. He’s a marine scientist (at least nominally) who’s found a way to make water samples seem clear, even if they are tainted. His employer, Samuel Johnson ‘Red’ Hammernut, finds that very useful; he owns an agri-business that pollutes the water, and has no interest in changing what he does, or in being cited by the authorities. When Chaz begins to suspect that his wife, Joey, has found out what he’s doing, he decides to solve his problem. He takes Joey on what he tells her is an anniversary present: a cruise of the Everglades. While they’re on the water, he throws her overboard. He hasn’t counted on the fact that Joey is a former competitive swimmer, though. Instead of dying, she survives and is saved by former police offer Mick Stranahan. With Mick’s help, Joey plans to make Chaz pay for what he did by ‘haunting’ him. And, as Chaz gets more and more unsettled by the things Joey does, Hammernut gets more and more concerned about their arrangement. And Broward County police detective Karl Rolvaag gets more and more suspicious of Chaz…

Jussi Adler-Olsen introduces his protagonist, Copenhagen police detective Carl Mørck, in Mercy (AKA The Keeper of Lost Causes. In that novel, Mørck returns to duty after being wounded in a line-of-duty shooting incident. He’s always been difficult to work with, but the trauma of what he’s been through has made dealing with him impossible. So, he is transferred to the newly-created ‘Department Q,’ which is dedicated to ‘cases of special interest’ (cold cases). It’s a move to appease members of the public and the government who believe that the police aren’t doing enough to solve crimes. The first case that Mørck and his new assistant, Hafaz al-Assad take on is the five-year-old disappearance of promising politician Merete Lynnggard. At the time she went missing, everyone thought she went overboard in a terrible ferry accident. But Mørck and Assad begin to suspect otherwise. If they’re right, and she is still alive, there may be very little time left to find her. So, the two sleuths are under a great deal of pressure as they try to find out what really happened.

Mark Douglas-Home’s The Sea Detective features Edinburgh oceanographer and Ph.D. Candidate Caladh ‘Cal’ McGill. His special interest is wave patterns, and he’s working on them for his thesis. In one plot thread of this novel, he’s also got a project of his own underway. Many years earlier, McGill’s grandfather, Uilliam, was on a fishing trip when he disappeared. The official account was that he went overboard accidentally, and McGill wants to know the truth about what happened. So, he’s using his knowledge of wave patterns to try to find out where his grandfather might have washed up, if he did. The search for the truth leads McGill to some dark truths about the island community where his grandparents lived at the time of the disappearance.

And then there’s Jonothan Cullinane’s Red Herring. It’s 1951 in Auckland, and PI Johnny Molloy is hired to find a man called O’Phelan. He takes the case and begins his search. Soon enough, he discovers that his quarry died in an overboard accident. But something doesn’t seem right about the incident, and Molloy starts to suspect it was a case of murder. What he doesn’t know at first, though, is that this death is related to a web of conspiracy, political intrigue, and ‘backroom deals.’ The closer Molloy gets to the truth about O’Phelan, the more dangerous the case becomes for him.

Seas and oceans can be very convenient places, if I may put it that way, for fictional murderers to hide their crimes. So it’s little wonder we see so many overboard ‘accidents’ in crime fiction. These are only a few. Your turn.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband’s Walk the Walk.


Filed under Carl Hiaasen, Jonothan Cullinane, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Mark Douglas-Home, Patricia Wentworth

Hello, Young Lovers, Whoever You Are*

One of the hallmarks of a lot of classic and Golden Age crime novels (and not always from that era!) is the trope of the young couple in danger. I don’t mean always in physical danger (although that happens). Rather, in many of these novels, there’s a couple whose relationship is threatened. Sometimes it’s because one of them is suspected or even accused of murder; other times it’s for other reasons.

It’s also worth noting that I’m not talking here of sleuths who are balancing work and romance, or who find love as they investigate. To me, that’s a very different plot element.  That aside, though, there are plenty of crime novels that include the plot point of the ‘young and threatened couple.’

For example, in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Boscombe Valley Mystery, James McCarthy is arrested for the murder of his father, Charles. There’s evidence against him, too. He and his father had a violent quarrel just before the killing. And it was common knowledge that his father objected strongly to McCarthy’s choice of fiancée. Inspector Lestrade thinks he has the right suspect, but McCarthy’s fiancée, Alice Turner, is convinced it was someone else. She begs the police to look into the matter more closely, and Lestrade agrees. He asks Sherlock Holmes to review the evidence, and Holmes and Dr. Watson do so. In the end, they find that the case isn’t nearly as simple as it seemed. Throughout the story, Jack McCarthy and Alice Turner are under a cloud as it’s not certain what the outcome of the case will be.

Agatha Christie’s The Murder on the Links introduces readers to the Renauld family. Paul Renauld is a Canadian émigré to France, who’s living with his wife and his son, Jack, in the small town of Merlinville sur Mer. Renault writes to Poirot, saying that his life is in danger, and asking him to come to France and help. Poirot and Captain Hastings travel to France, but by the time they get there, it’s too late: Renauld has been killed. M. Giraud of the Sûreté investigates, and it doesn’t take long for him to settle on Jack Renauld as the main suspect. Poirot isn’t convinced of the young man’s guilt, but Renauld is arrested for the crime. And this wreaks havoc on Renauld’s romantic life. If the course of true love is to run true, as the saying goes, Poirot will have to find out who the real killer is.

Grey Mask, the first of Patricia Wentworth’s Maude Silver novels, tells the story of Charles Moray, who returns to England after a four-year absence. He goes to the family home, only to find that it’s being used as the meeting place of a criminal gang. What’s worse, Moray’s former fiancée, Margaret Langton, seems to be mixed up with the group. On the advice of a friend, Moray consults Miss Silver, and she begins to ask questions. In the meantime, Moray tracks Margaret Langton to the shop where she works, and the two resume an up-and-down relationship. That relationship isn’t the reason for the criminal gang, or for a plot that the gang’s leader has concocted. But it’s woven throughout the novel, and the young couple gets into some classic danger; they’re even locked in a basement, in true classic/Golden Age style.

In John Dickson Carr’s Hag’s Nook, Tad Rampole travels to England on the advice of his mentor. Among other things, he wants to meet famous lexicographer Dr. Gideon Fell. On his way to do so, he happens to meet Dorothy Starberth. The two strike up a conversation, and it’s not long before they find themselves attracted to each other. Then, Rampole learns about the Starberth family history. For two generations, Starberth men served as governors at the now-disused Chatterham Prison. Even though the prison hasn’t been in use for a hundred years, the Starberth family still follows a ritual connected with it. Each male Starberth heir spends the night of his twenty-fifth birthday in the Governor’s Room at the prison. During his stay, each heir opens the safe in the room, and follows the instructions written on a piece of paper that’s kept in that safe. Now it’s the turn of Dorothy Starberth’s brother, Martin. The two Starberths are anxious about it, because several Starberths have died suddenly through the years, and there’s talk that the family is cursed. In fact, the last Starberth heir to die in unusual circumstances was Dorothy and Martin’s father, Timothy. Still, Martin goes through with the tradition. That night, he dies in what looks like a tragic fall from the balcony of the Governor’s Room. But Gideon Fell isn’t convinced that this death was an accident. And in the end, he finds out the truth of the matter. Throughout the novel, the romance between Tad Rampole and Dorothy Starberth is ‘clouded over,’ if you will, by the murder of her brother.

And then there’s Elizabeth Peters’ Crocodile on the Sandbank, the first of her Amelia Peabody novels. True, this novel was published after the end of the Golden Age (in 1975), but it takes place at the end of the Nineteenth Century, and Peters stayed true to some of the elements. One of those elements is the young couple in love and threatened. In the novel, Miss Amelia Peabody is in Rome, on her way to Egypt, when she meets Evelyn Barton-Forbes. Miss Peabody’s travel companion has just taken ill, and has had to return to England. Evelyn has her own sad history, and is now on her own. So, it works out well for both of them when she agrees to join Miss Peabody as companion. Not long after their arrival in Egypt, the two ladies meet archaeologists Radcliffe and Walter Emerson, who are working on an excavation in Armana. Walter and Evelyn are immediately drawn to each other, but they have very different sets of plans, and go their separate ways. They meet up again, though, at the excavation site, and at first, things go well. Then, a mummy that the Emerson brothers discovered goes missing. Then, the local villagers report seeing a mummy walk at night. And it’s not fanciful; the very pragmatic Miss Peabody sees it, too, and so does Evelyn. Then, other frightening things begin to happen, and it’s soon clear that something, or someone, is targeting the excavation. By this time, Walter and Evelyn are in love, but there are several obstacles to their becoming an ‘official’ couple. If the excavation is to stay in place, and the couple are to find any happiness, the team will have to discover who’s wreaking havoc on the site, and why.

There are plenty of other classic/Golden Age novels, too, in which there’s a young couple whose happiness will depend on solving a mystery. These are just a few. Your turn.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Richard Rodgers’ and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Hello, Young Lovers.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Elizabeth Peters, John Dickson Carr, Patricia Wentworth

These Are the Stories of Edgar Allan Poe*

As this is posted, it’s 176 years since Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue was first published in Graham’s Magazine. This is the story that introduced the world to C. Auguste Dupin, Poe’s detective. In the story, Dupin solves the murders of Madame L’Espanaye, and her daughter, Mademoiselle Camille L’Espanaye. This is often said to be the first ‘real’ detective story, although there are some who argue otherwise.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Poe, it’s hard to deny his influence on crime fiction. Just a quick look at The Murders in the Rue Morgue offers glimpses of several tropes that we see in later crime fiction.

For example, Dupin’s adventures are narrated by a friend and sidekick. Although this particular narrator isn’t named, the approach to storytelling is reflected in lots of other, more modern, crime fiction. To offer just a few examples, fans of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories can tell you that they are, by and large, told by Holmes’ sidekick, Dr. Watson. Several of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot stories are narrated by his friend and sidekick, Captain Arthur Hastings. There are also a few in which the narrator is someone else.  And, much more recently, Chris Grabenstein’s John Ceepak/Danny Boyle novels are narrated in first person by Ceepak’s sidekick, Danny Boyle. In all of these cases (and they’re not the only one), we have a narrator who tells the story in first person, and gives the reader a different perspective on the main sleuth. This allows the author to share what the main sleuth is like without going into too much narrative detail. It also allows the author to share the sleuth’s thinking at a strategic point (more on that shortly).

In The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Dupin solves the murders through a process of logical reasoning and deduction. He doesn’t make claims based just on superficial evidence. Rather, he uses logic to put the facts together. In this, we see the beginnings of the sort of detective Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes turned out to be. Holmes might beg to differ – in fact, he does in A Study in Scarlet. He sees Dupin as not nearly as much of a genius as it may seem. That said, though, there are several parallels between Dupin’s way of putting evidence together, and that of Holmes. You might even argue that there are traces of this approach in some of the Ellery Queen stories.

Dupin doesn’t share his thought processes with the reader as he solves the mystery of the two murders in the story. Instead, he waits until the end to explain how he reached the conclusion. And we see that storytelling strategy in a great deal of crime fiction. For example, fans of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot will know that he admits to liking an audience. Several of the Poirot novels (I’m thinking, for instance, of Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and Five Little Pigs) include dramatic ‘big reveal’ scenes. The suspects are gathered, and Poirot names the murder, and then explains his thinking. Some of Patricia Wentworth’s Maude Silver novels are like that, and so are some of Ngaio Marsh’s Roderick Alleyn novels. That dramatic scene in the drawing room, or a lounge, or some other place, where all of the suspects come together, is a trope that’s closely associated with the Golden Age. But it’s in more modern crime fiction, too. For instance, Margaret Maron’s One Coffee With has a similar sort of scene.

One of the witnesses in The Murders in the Rue Morgue is a clerk named Adolphe Le Bon. Due to a series of circumstances, he’s arrested for the crime and imprisoned. He claims he’s not guilty, and Dupin clears his name. This trope – the innocent person who’s wrongly accused – has become an integral part of the genre. Golden Age/classic, police procedural, PI, cosy, just about all of the sub-genres include plenty of examples of stories where the wrong person is accused, if not actually convicted. There are far too many examples for me to list them here. But they all add tension to the story.

Does this mean that The Murders in the Rue Morgue is without problems? No. Many people have argued that the explanation – the real story of the murders – is too improbable. What’s more, neither Dupin’s character nor that of his narrator is what we would now call ‘fleshed out.’ The focus in the story is entirely on the intellectual mystery. Modern readers would certainly notice this, and might call the story lacking on that score. There’s also the issue of the way the police are portrayed in the story. Poe doesn’t treat them with a great deal of respect. And there are several ‘isms’ in the story that modern readers would notice.

All of this said, though, The Murders in the Rue Morgue laid the groundwork for the modern detective story. We have a set of murders, a sleuth who makes sense of the evidence, and an invitation to the reader to ‘match wits’ with that sleuth. On that score, Poe’s work arguably deserves recognition. And, if you haven’t read the story, you might want to, just to see how it all arguably started.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Lou Reed’s Edgar Poe.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Chris Grabenstein, Edgar Allan Poe, Ellery Queen, Margaret Maron, Patricia Wentworth

They Might Have Split Up or They Might have Capsized*

shipwrecksIf you’ve ever been on a boat of any kind, you know that there’s always risk involved. Even on luxury cruise liners, there are lifeboat drills and other safety precautions. The thing is, you never know, when you’re out on the water, what’s going to happen.

Certainly, the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which went down with all hands on this date in 1975, didn’t know for sure what would happen to them. The ship was caught in a sudden storm, and couldn’t make it to safety in time. The loss of ships and other boats is a part of history all over the world, and it’s woven into crime fiction, too. That makes sense, when you think of all the possibilities (e.g. lost treasure, missing people who may (or may not) turn up again, and much more). There’s only room for a few examples in this one post; I know you’ll think of many others.

In Patricia Wentworth’s Grey Mask, we are introduced to Margot Standing, an ingénue who is set to inherit a large fortune from her father, Edward, who’s recently been lost at sea. The only problem is, Margot’s cousin Egbert also has a claim to the money. And the papers that would prove Edward Standing’s intent have disappeared. Egbert proposes that he and Margot should marry, and keep the money ‘in the family.’ This Margot refuses to do, and ends up leaving her home. What she doesn’t know is that she’s the target of a gang led by a mysterious criminal called Grey Mask. The plan is to get rid of her and take her money. She finds an unlikely ally in Margaret Langton, whose former fiancé Charles Moray already knows about Grey Mask’s plot. Together, Langton and Moray try to unravel the mystery of Grey Mask’s identity, and save Margot from their plans. To do that, they get help from Miss Maude Silver, for whom this novel is a first outing. In this case, the treasure wasn’t, strictly speaking, on the ship that went down. But the shipwreck has a lot to do with the plot.

In Domingo Villar’s Death on a Galician Shore, Vigo police detective Leo Caldas and his team investigate the death of a local fisherman, Justo Castelo. At first, it looks like a case of suicide. But Caldas soon notes a few little inconsistencies that call that explanation into question. So the team members dig a little deeper. They learn that Castelo didn’t have a wide social circle, and no real enemies. The only lead that seems at all promising is Castelo’s connection to José Arias and Marcos Valverde. Years earlier, the three had been out one night on a fishing boat with their captain, Antonio Sousa. A sudden storm came up, and the boat went down. Sousa died, but the other three made it back to land. And, as it turns out, that death has a lot to do with Castelo’s death.

In one plot thread of Mark Douglas-Home’s The Sea Detective, Edinburgh oceanographer Caladgh ‘Cal’ is using his expertise in wave patterns to solve the mystery of his grandfather Uilliem’s disappearance. Years earlier, Uilliem had met his wife on ilean Isagaich Mor, Great Fishing Island, settled there, and prepared to start life. Then, he was lost during a sea voyage. Now, his grandson wants to find out where his body might be and what happened to him. That trail leads back to the island and the relationships among the people there. Among other things, it’s an interesting look at what happens to a community when some of the men are lost at sea.

Sandy Curtis’ Deadly Tide takes place mostly in and around Brisbane. Allan ‘Tug’ Bretton, who captains the fishing trawler Sea Mistress, broke his leg in an onboard incident (on another boat) connected with the death of a deckhand, Ewan McKay. His daughter, Samantha ‘Sam’, wants to skipper Sea Mistress in his place. On the one hand, Tug’s not sure his daughter is ready for the responsibility. On the other, the boat has to go out, or the family stands to lose a lot of money. So, reluctantly, Tug agrees, and Sam starts to plan for the trip. One thing she’ll need to do is get a deckhand. For that, she hires Chayse Jarrett. What she doesn’t know is that he’s actually an undercover copper who’s looking into McKay’s death. He wants to see if there’s any evidence that Tug Bretton is guilty. The police theory is that McKay’s murder might be connected to the Brisbane-area drugs trade, so Jarrett is also investigating any connection the Bretton family might have to drugs smuggling. The fishing trip gets underway, and turns out to be far more dangerous than either Sam Bretton or Chayse Jarrett thought it would be. And, interestingly enough, it’s all related to a long-ago shipwreck, and the mutiny that led to it.

And then there’s Robin Blake’s historical (1742) novel, The Hidden Man. In that story, Attorney and Coroner Titus Cragg works with his friend, Dr. Luke Fidelis, to find out who killed pawnbroker and would-be banker, Philip Pimbo. Cragg and Fidelis learn that Pimbo had financially backed a ship called The Fortunate Isle. A few weeks before the murder, Pimbo’s business partner, Zadok Moon, had filed a claim with the firm that insured the ship. According to that claim, the ship and its cargo were a total loss. That claim, the ship, its cargo and its fate, turn out to be important to solving the murder. One interesting thing this novel highlights is the way insurance companies are traditionally involved in sea voyages.

Of course, not all trips by sea end tragically. Most of the time they don’t. But the fact that they might can add a lot of interesting suspense to a novel. Right, fans of Martin Cruz Smith’s  Polar Star? These are just a few examples. Your turn.


In Memoriam


This post is dedicated to the memory of the 29 members of the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I hope their families have found peace and healing.


NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.


Filed under Domingo Villar, Mark Douglas-Home, Martin Cruz Smith, Patricia Wentworth, Sandy Curtis