The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

MOST cruise ships in­clude li­braries but few are as large and well sup­plied as those aboard Cu­nard lin­ers. The fleet’s Queen Mary 2 boasts the largest li­brary afloat, with more than 8000 hard­backs, 500 pa­per­backs, 200 au­dio books and 100 CD ROMs ar­rayed in glass-fronted cab­i­nets across two floors. Of course, the ad­vent of elec­tronic read­ing de­vices must mean that fewer pas­sen­gers will board cruise ships with bags crammed full of hol­i­day books. But whether you are a Kin­dle fan or love the tac­tile plea­sure of read­ing a pa­per­back in a deckchair, pages flut­ter­ing in the sea breeze, here’s a rec­om­mended read­ing list of ship­board mys­ter­ies to get you in a nautical mood. And, for the record, no on-board li­brary worth its (cap­tain’s) stripes should be with­out a full com­ple­ment of Agatha Christie ti­tles, in­clud­ing, nat­u­rally, Death on the Nile.

Con­rad Allen has writ­ten a good mys­tery se­ries fea­tur­ing a roll­call of fa­mous Cu­nard ships. There’s Mur­der on the Lusi­ta­nia, Mur­der on the Mau­re­ta­nia and so forth, all fea­tur­ing Ge­orge Porter Dill­man as the ship­ping line’s debonair pri­vate de­tec­tive. Mean­while, Vin­cent Star­rett’s 1929 de­tec­tive novel Mur­der on ’B’ Deck is a wor­thy clas­sic and S.S. Mur­der by Pa­trick Quentin (writ­ing as Q. Pa­trick), pub­lished in 1933, is an­other worth track­ing down; Aus­tralian au­thor Kerry Green­wood sets Death by Wa­ter, one of her pop­u­lar Phryne Fisher mys­ter­ies, aboard the S.S. Hinemoa on a cruise be­tween Aus­tralia and New Zealand. Aside from jew­ellery thefts, the ever-in­ven­tive Green­wood prom­ises ‘‘ship­board ro­mances, cham­pagne cock­tails, erotic pho­tog­ra­phers, jeal­ous hus­bands, mickey finns, black­mail and at­tempted mur­der’’. Which just about cov­ers the lot save, say, a drown­ing in the ther­mal spa or death by chocolate at af­ter­noon tea.

Buzz Cut by James W. Hall is a cracker, too. Just con­sider this opener: ‘‘In his of­fi­cial Fi­esta Cruise Lines shirt, Emilio Sanchez stood be­fore the bath­room mir­ror look­ing at his new tummy bulge. What is was, was too much cruise food for the last six months . . . He ran a quick comb through his thick black hair and turned from the mir­ror and the first thing he saw was the glit­ter of the [knife’s] blade.’’ It makes me get that sink­ing feel­ing.

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