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The Case of Cabin 13 (John Darnell Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Signet (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451196902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451196903
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,743,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Walking through a Borders store, I saw Mr. McCarver speaking on his book. I sat down and listened, and the story sounded fascinating. At least the details of the Titanic (which was really all he spoke about) did. I bought the book, he signed it for me, and as I sank into it, (he offered many puns at his signing/presentation) I found myself becoming engrossed.
But -- it was not until page 58 or so that I really became interested, which was a bit of a surprise. What kept putting me off was the talk of action, but never really taking it, and too much descriptive stuff about the Titanic, when I really wanted to know about the characters, the suspense, and what was going to happen.
Darnell, the "hero" of the story, internalized a lot, thinking of this and thinking of that, yet he moved sluggishly, like he had no ability to take true control of the situation, even when he knew exactly what had to be done.
I did read it quickly, which means the writing was good, but it left me yearning for some more meat. I truly hope the forthcoming mystery on the Orient Express deals more with the mystery than it does with the Orient Express. We are, after all, readers who long for intrigue -- not a history lesson.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christina P. Branson on August 9, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Maybe it's because author Sam McCarver is, as his cover blurb puts it, "a lifelong mystery and history buff," but I think I was hoping for a fresh, accurate angle on what had been turned into a slickly commercial blockbuster. Whatever I was hoping for, I don't think I got it.
The case of the title refers to a series of mysterious suicides in first-class cabin 13 of different White Star Lines ships. As the maiden voyage of the supervessel Titanic approaches in 1912, nervous White Star executives approach famous paranormal debunker Professor John Darnell in an effort to dispel rumors of a White Star curse. This brings me to my first complaint: Considering the suspicious circumstances of the "suicides," I think--even in 1912--that most people would have been quicker to suspect a human murderer than a ghostly one. It's not like these were tightly constructed locked-room puzzles in the John Dickson Carr tradition.
In order to catch the culprit, Darnell agrees to occupy Titanic's cabin 13. This should make things interesting, right? Unfortunately, my second (and overwhelming) complaint is that anything actually having to do with solving the mystery is almost boring. Darnell lives and works almost entirely in his head, so any scenes that could be called "action" are few and far between, and they usually involve Darnell's Chinese manservant being attacked.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 10, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I can not recommend this book. I had expected a good period piece with plenty of Titanic atmosphere and a somewhat supernatural mystery. I don't think either was delivered. The hero could have been on the Titanic or the Queen Mary, just because a ship hits an iceberg doesn't bring the Titanic scene to life.
Ther are other, much better mysteries set on the Titanic. Two that come to mind that I enjoyed are Max Allan Collins "The Titanic Murders" and Jack Finneys' "From Time to Time"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The strength of this book is its historical background, but compared to giants like Noah Gordon who provide tons of historical information, McCarver is a lightweight. However, I did really enjoy the way the author wove his "who-done-it" around the enigmatic figures and grand details of the Titanic disaster. Mostly McCarver needs to flesh out his characters as real people though. The villain seemed wooden, even melodramatic, his motivations for murder sketchy and unrealistic, until the book's end when the author finally summed them up in a several, weak paragraphs. Though Darnell is British, nonetheless he seemed two-dimensional and emotionless, despite the fact that he was supposedly so overcome by his love for Penny that he got distracted from the task of unraveling the mysterious Cabin 13 suicides. The first two thirds of the book were the best as far as plot line. After the Titanic went down the plot got tedious while Darnell hunted down the murderous villain. This portion of the book should have been more concise and less predictable. I will read McCarver's next book, though, just to see if he has improved his skill in drawing rich, engaging characters. If he does, I'll probably be entertained by a reasonable plot, a richer Orient Express tapestry, and characters I can sink my teeth into.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Byrd on July 4, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What a breath of fresh air to have a work of fiction filled with historical elements! I thoroughly enjoyed the characters that Mr. McCarver delivered; I am looking forward to reading more about them in the near future. Unfortunately, so much of todays published works are filled with unrealistic and unappealing fantasy, but gladly, such is not the "case" with The Case of Cabin 13. This book is filled with creditable characters in a realistic setting creating a true drama and suspense novel. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical drama and even moreso to those looking for a good mystery series. I give this book "two thumbs up" at the very least.
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