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by Conrad Allen
St Martin's Minotaur, February 2004
288 pages
ISBN: 0312307918

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield work as ship detectives. They are hired to sail on the Marmora to Australia and investigate any criminal activity. Their normal method of detection involve working independently and undercover as first class passengers. They hold private meetings with the ship's porter and each other in order to keep abreast of problems and petty crimes.

In MURDER ON THE MARMORA they follow their normal operating procedure. Masefield befriends a widow traveling with her daughter and Dillman latches on to a family traveling to Egypt to study the ancient Egyptians. From the start things are fraught with danger as several thefts are noticed in addition to the normal tensions that occur when strangers are forced to share their living space. Then their greatest fear is realized as their first body is found. Masefield and Dillman must race against the clock to find a murderer, a thief and a con artist.

MURDER ON THE MARMORA is a historical mystery. The book does not provide an in-depth look at the technology that was needed in order to create cruise lines; yet, there are hints to the science involved. Nothing is taken for granted. In some ways the newer technologies that allowed comfortable passage across the world is seen by the characters the way the current society views long-distance phone calls and other conveniences.

Allen has a good grasp of character development and creating realistic story lines. MURDER ON THE MARMORA has a large number of characters and situations simply due to its location. Somehow Allen has managed to include just enough detail regarding characters without getting stale and without providing too much or not enough information. While none of the passengers' situations are completely developed or every single character introduced, enough information is given to keep the story line moving without scrimping on details.

Dillman and Masefield obviously have a history from previous work relationships; however, their current relationship is not spelled out. This book is written with the idea that while not every reader is familiar with their history, there is no reason to rehash old events that do not help the story. This allows both new and old readers to feel as though the story and history is always fresh.

MURDER ON THE MARMORA is the third book featuring George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, January 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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