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Murder Aboard the Queen Elizabeth II Paperback – February 28, 2017
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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" Murray hit a grand slam with Murder Aboard the Queen Elizabeth II. The writing and character development are high quality. The story is thrilling and well structured as suspense builds throughout. I had a tough time putting it down as it kept me guessing until the end."
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."Once I started reading could not put the book down. "
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Even before the actual murder, many sly hints and clues are dangled with an assortment of tawdry relationships and a bagful of secrets that emerge from Alicia, Todd, Laura, Denise, and just about every member of the party. The planner of the anniversary cruise, Sylvia, serves as the heart of the novel; her aversion to confrontation helps advance the numerous plot threads. By the time the victim is dead, the reader has so many suspects established in his mind, that he is more than ready for the investigation that follows.
And that investigation, led by retired private eye Richard Manning with the ship’s captain serving as a congenial sidekick, continues to unearth further sniping and suspicious behavior from the suspects. Manning’s probing questions and intuitive leaps in interrogation heighten the suspense, and Murray’s shifts in perspective back to the suspects allow for the possibilities for who might be involved in the murder to continually expand.
Murder aboard the Queen Elizabeth II offers so many nice twists – almost every character seems to be working an angle – that the revelation of the murderer is particularly satisfying. Murray has delivered to the reader a very pleasurable and diverting novel.
The scene is an anniversary party aboard the Queen Elizabeth II luxury liner on a cruise between England and New York City. The principals are a happy couple celebrating their silver wedding anniversary, Brian and Sylvia Sinclair. They are accompanied by their children Robin (male) and Stephanie along with their significant others, the company lawyer (Marshall) and two recording artists (David and Todd) from Brian’s recording company, also accompanied by their wives. Denise, Brian’s former fiancée and now-famous recording artist is also aboard, ostensibly as part of the ship’s entertainment. Somebody will be murdered, and somebody will do the dirty deed. Oh! I almost forgot. There is a butler. Actually, he is a highly competent and experienced waiter named Maurizio, who is assigned to the tables of the anniversary party. This is his very first trip aboard the QEII. He was just hired by the cruise company. It wouldn’t be a real British murder mystery without a butler, would it?
Fully one-quarter of the story has been told before anybody gets aboard the QEII. It isn’t until the 66th page of this 239-page novel that the first of the story’s characters arrives at the QEII and enters her cabin. In breaking with the custom of many mystery writers, Mr. Murray did not have the murder take place early in the story so that the plot would be, primarily, about solving the murder, Rather, he did not have the murder occur until page #124, more than half-way through the book. The first half of the book is, essentially, backstory.
A good author needs good editing — both copy editing, and content/structural editing. This novel suffers from a lack of all types of editing. I noted more copy editing errors (grammar and spelling) than I would have liked to see. Some of what I believe are editing deficiencies involve the grammatically-correct, but often inappropriate use of adjectives and adverbs. One example is when the author describes Brian slamming “the heavily wooden living room door behind him … " How about just a “heavy wooden door”? It is grammatically correct to use the adverb “heavily” to modify the adjective “wooden,” but most American readers would find it a bit odd. I don’t believe that this can be attributed to the different writing styles between British and American authors. I have read a great deal of British fiction, and very little of it seems as pompous as this novel.
One example of the stilted language used by the author is when he tells us about two women driving in an automobile between Gatwick Airport and the QEII at its dock in Southampton. The author tells us that “the two chatted incessantly …” I thought that a more appropriate descriptive adverb might be “animatedly.” The word “incessantly” carries a negative connotation. The Cambridge English Dictionary, for example, describes the word “incessant” as follows: “never stopping, especially in an annoying or unpleasant way.” But, . . . maybe I’m nit-picking. I did find these kinds of editing oversights to be distracting, however.
Even as the story concluded, I saw inconsistencies. At the beginning of Chapter 30, on page #231, we are told that Sylvia is standing on the deck of the ship waiting to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. It is so cold that she is “wrapped in a dark fur coat and a headscarf.” Never mind that this is New York City in August, and never mind that the temperature rarely drops lower than the low sixties at night in August in New York City, and never mind that some nights the temperature doesn’t drop lower than the seventies, Sylvia is bundled up like she is in Alaska. (You can find temperature data for NYC on the Internet — I found good info on accuweather.com) Yet, a little earlier in the story, when the cruise liner was somewhere in the middle of the (presumably) cold Atlantic Ocean, Brian sees four members of his group “laying down their towels and rubbing themselves and each other with suntan lotion” at the outdoor swimming pool on deck. Clearly, the weather was sunny and warm. Perhaps Sylvia might need a sweater — but a fur coat and headscarf??
This author needs better editing. It would probably make a considerable difference in the quality of his writing. As it is, I can’t, in all good conscience, recommend this book highly, even though I have met the author and believe him to be a very nice gentleman. The story is, however, an easy read.