Murder on the Lusitania

Conrad Allen, Author Minotaur Books $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-24114-8
Allen kicks off a projected series of mysteries set on famous ocean liners with this well-crafted high society whodunit. Suave, smart and handsome, George Porter Dillman seems to be the perfect man for his job as the Cunard Line's private detective. Posing as a first-class passenger on the Lusitania's 1907 maiden voyage, he ingratiates himself with ship's surgeon Lionel Osborne, flirts mildly with young Violet Rymer, assists the troubled American Ellen Tolley, befriends the adventurous Genevieve Masefield and keeps an eye on potential card sharks and con men. Meanwhile, pushy journalist Henry Bancroft tries hard to scoop his rivals, and the aristocrats who populate the book's margins pursue their various schemes. It's not long before Dillman discovers difficult puzzles to solve. Someone has snatched the secret diagrams that explain the Lusitania's wiring, and someone--the same culprit?--has stolen a Stradivarius from world-famous violinist Itzak Weiss. When Dillman discovers Bancroft murdered by a grisly blow to the head, only he can find the real killer. Allen won't win awards for his prose (""Having been given so little in the way of evidence, he now felt that he had far too much and it was causing confusion""). He will, however, please some fans of historical drawing-room murder, especially the Anglophiles. With little violence, much description of jewelry, some intrigue and plenty of stiff upper lips, Allen's confection may overcome its predictable elements to find warm admirers. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/1999
Release date: 12/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 272 pages - 978-0-312-97571-5
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-7156-3213-0
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