All booked up at sea
WHATcould be a more pleasurable prospect than a deckchair aboard an ocean liner and a lapful of books. Or, to be thoroughly modern, an iPad or e-reader in your lap loaded with the latest escapist literature — best of all, a novel with a cruise theme.
If you want something bursting with intrigue, Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile is the standby classic. A more recent offering is Michael Ondaatje’s beguilingly written The Cat’s Table, about a young boy’s adventures on a sea crossing from Colombo to England.
SeaSick by US author Gloria Nagy is full of sensational twists and turns while Australia’s Kerry Greenwood is in fine form in Death by Water starring Phryne Fisher (she of the recent Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series on ABC TV); the exquisitely costumed sleuth is engaged to help P&Osolve a string of jewellery thefts on SS Hinemoa as it sails from Melbourne for New Zealand. Greenwood promises ‘‘shipboard romances, champagne cocktails, erotic photographers, jealous husbands, mickey finns, blackmail and attempted murder’’ — all that you could want from cruising, in fact, bar death by midnight buffet or being conked over the head by bamboo healing rods in the wellness spa.
Anthologies of mysteries set on ocean liners that I have borrowed from shipboard libraries (of which the one on Cunard’s QM2is the unrivalled leader) include the bluntly titled Murder on Deck! edited by Rosemary Herbert and Death Cruise: Crime Stories on the Open Seas edited by the reliably scary Lawrence Block.