All booked up at sea

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

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.

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