October 27, 2023
When I looked up information about this book and its author I was interested in the fact that the ship the main character sails on was a real ship at that time on its maiden voyage. The S.S. Minneapolis set sail from New York to London in 1900 and was considered to be a grand ship of its time.
Flora Maguire is not from high society. A lowly governess taking a ticket on a fancy ship originally meant for a wealthier passenger, she is excited to experience all the good life has to offer, all while keeping up with her 15 year old exuberant charge, Eddy. Sailing with them are a host of upper class passengers all of whom have their own quirky personalities. When one of the guests, a Mr. Parnell is found dead seemingly from a fall, Flora is not so sure. Clues around the scene lead her to believe there is more going on and with the help of a dashing young man, Bunny Harrington, she sets out to get to the bottom of things. The two of them spend time sleuthing the ship together and leading undercover observations and interrogations of the guests they know at dinner and elsewhere to see if they can flush out the truth.
Befriending an American actress Eloise, who was friendly with Parnell, Flora is intrigued by how she and her mysterious past fit in with the goings on. Eloise acts suspiciously and nervously, leading Flora to suspect her in Parnell's death. But when Eloise herself is found stabbed to death, it is obvious that someone else has targeted specific people on the ship and that more deaths could be coming. Flora and Bunny must work quietly to find out the truth while making sure no harm comes to Eddy and the guests they believe to be innocent.
This was a cute story and the first in the series. While it wasn't terribly "historic" driven, the author did try to add some touches from the time that made it feel authentic. I enjoyed the dialogue between Flora and Bunny and they have chemistry between them. Eddy and Ozzy, the boy he befriends, get into typical teenage boy mischief and are endearing. There is a long character list to keep track of and because of this one is definitely thrown off track as to the backstories and who the real killer might be. There is a lot to unravel and several stories within stories so I thought it was multi layered enough to keep one alert and guessing.
While I didn't dislike the book, I can't say if I'll read another in the series. It just didn't have enough of the cleverness and uniqueness of some of the other cozy mystery series I've grown fond of. I had hoped for a bit more feel of the time period but that waned quickly once they boarded the ship and set sail. Some of the language of the time was realistic and Flora and Bunny do have a relationship that would be typical of the time, but for the most part, the story could have been easily dropped into any modern cozy mystery series.
Still, if you are looking for a clean, fun, murder mystery plot with cute characters and a twisty ending, it's a good read.