St. Martin's, Jan 2002, 22.95, 294 pp.
ISBN 0312 280920
George Porter Dillman and Genevieve Masefield did such a good job unmasking the murderer on the Lusitania, the cruise line has hired them as ship detectives. For nine months the duo sailed from England to New York but their faces were becoming too recognizable so when the Great Northern Steamship Company asked for their services, they were free to accept.
They boarded The Minnesota in Seattle with their destination the Orient but the captain is worried about one of the passengers, Rance Gilpatrick, an unsavory smuggler. Everyone who knows Rance believes he is working his trade on the ship but nobody knows what he's smuggling or where he has stashed his booty. While George and Genevieve are working different angles to get close to the gangster, a Catholic missionary priest is garroted to death. The target was really a diplomat who was going to conduct secret meetings in Japan. The daring detective duo hope to keep the diplomat safe while finding out what Rance is up to if they want to keep their perfect ocean sailing record unblemished.
MURDER ON THE MINNESOTA is a picturesque mystery, so much so that readers will feel the urge to take a cruise to the Far East just like the protagonists did. The story line is fast paced with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader from guessing what the villain's ultimate goal is. Once again Conrad Allen shows his natural talents as a wonderful historical mystery storyteller who makes the first decade of the twentieth century come vividly alive to his readers.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner