Titanic tribute: top five maritime mysteries

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With the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic coming up on Sunday, we prepared a tribute for crime fiction lovers in the form of a top five nautical tie-in. As you’d expect several crime fiction titles were inspired by the great ship, so our line-up does feature one mystery set aboard the doomed liner. However, we’d also like to introduce you to one or two amateur sleuths you may not have met before, plus there’s a familiar face for fans of Martin Cruz Smith.

Unsinkable by Dan James
It’s April 1912 and Titanic is on its maiden voyage. Among those on board are a former special branch police officer Arthur Beck, as well as the female journalist Martha Heaton. She’s looking to make her name as a serious correspondent. However somewhere in the ship someone with murderous intentions is lurking and Beck and Martha must work together to find the killer before they have a chance to strike.

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To Davy Jones Below by Carola Dunn
Amateur sleuth Daisy Dalrymple and Inspector Alec Fletcher are newly married and looking forward to a two-week honeymoon that’s about to get hijacked by wealthy American industrialist Caleb P Arbuckle, with an offer the pair cannot resist. Alec has been invited to go to the US to advise a young J Edgar Hoover and Daisy is travelling with him. Following a series of suspicious accidents, when a passenger suddenly goes overboard Alec is asked to investigate. He and Daisy find themselves caught up in a web of intrigue with some very dangerous travelling companions.

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Dangerous Sea by David Roberts
It’s 1937 and with a strong whiff of war in the air a British aristocrat is on a mission to negotiate with President Roosevelt to supply arms and money should the worst happen. To ensure that he completes his mission, the special branch instructs Lord Edward Corinth to keep an unofficial eye on their envoy during the sea crossing on the Queen Mary. However the death of a racist senator who has managed to upset most of the ship’s other passengers sets Corinth and sidekick Verity Brown off on an entirely different investigation. Who killed Warren Fairley and why?

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Death by Water by Kerry Greenwood
After a spate of jewellery thefts from first class passengers on a cruise liner the ship’s owners call stylish investigator Phryne Fisher in to investigate. Using the Great Queen of Sapphires as bait, Phryne will have to deal with jealous husbands, blackmailers and an attempted murder before she can finally catch the culprit.

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Polar Star by Martin Cruz Smith
And finally, the second book in Cruz Smith’s series featuring the now disgraced former investigator Arkady Renko. Two years have passed since the Gorky Park murders and Renko is now on board the Soviet whaling ship Polar Star, somewhere in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Siberia. Life is pretty bleak. Renko is now working 14 hour shifts on a ship that catches and processes fish, then takes a brief stop-over at an Alaskan port where the Russians trade for Western goods. When the body of a woman is found in the ship’s net, Renko is far from keen to investigate, but with nobody else showing any interest in the matter and the appearance of a suicide note, he begins to suspect there may be more to this death and is determined to discover the truth.

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