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    Review of MURDER ON THE SALSETTE by Conrad Allen


    St. Martin's Minotaur, April 2005

    Cruise ship detectives George Dillman and Genevieve Masefield, newly married but pretending to be single as they mingle with the rich and famous on pre-World War I cruise liners, are heading from Bombay in British India toward Aden. The Salsette is a fast and beautiful ship--and the purser assures them that there should be no problems. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A passenger's cabin is burglarized, purses are lifted, and a man is murdered in his stateroom. All of a sudden, all the pressure is on Dillman and Masefield to solve the crimes.

    First, though, they need to determine whether there is a connection between the murder and the robberies. One thing for certain, someone did rob the dead man. But there are other motives for murder. The dead man had done his best to make enemies and, in fact, was visibly nervous before he was killed.

    Author Conrad Allen (see more reviews of mysteries by Allen) makes his pre-WWI world of affluent imperialists come alive. Travelers worry about class, about who is satisfactory to be seen with, and about who might be properly snubbed. As an American with egalitarian leanings, Dillman comes in for more than his share of snubs. Beautiful (and English) Masefield is more accepted by the elite--although not by the first victim of the thief--a woman who definitely prefers men. Snobbery takes a nasty turn when it comes to how the English relate to the Indians, both back in India, and those who are traveling on the Salsette.

    Conrad Allen provides a full serving of red herring, but I found this mystery to be a bit easy, and the social commentary to be a little repetitious. Still, it was pleasant to see Dillman and Masefield continuing to solve crimes together. The teenaged Lois Greenwood makes a charming character and the steward, Paulo Morelli adds a comic touch. Fans of the series will definitely want to see what Dillman and Masefield are up to now.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 8/25/05

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