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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Danger on the SS Orient by C.A. Larmer is the second book in The Murder Mystery Book Club series. Set out on the high seas with Alicia Finlay and her book club as they rally together to solve another murder mystery. The group is eager for their vacation on the SS Orient, thanks to a suggestion from Alicia's handsome boyfriend. It was meant to be fun and relaxation for the book club until their vacation takes a turn and plunges them into the midst of a mystery following the mysterious vanishing of a passenger, who happens to be the captain's wife. Two deaths later and they're certain a murderer is on board. Nobody knows their way around a mystery better than the Murder Mystery Book Club and they don't plan to let this one go unsolved. The disappearance of the captain's wife comes with clues such as a letter with childish scrawl and melodramatic behavior. Can Alicia and her friends solve this whodunit before they disembark?
The writing is delightful as C.A. Larmer crafts stunning imagery, vivid settings, a humorous tone, and a mystery full of twists and turns. This lovely writing style is seen in how the ship is described as creaking and shimmering like a doddery old dame, nature compared to judge and jury, Claire's mood turning as dark as the sky outside, and a portly little detective with an egg-shaped head. Each description adds to the charm of the series. The story features Australian slang woven throughout the dialogue and specific word choices that help round out the attitudes of the characters. Larmer has created a great assortment of personalities in the book club and does well at blending their differences. The Book Club takes great pride in their mystery-solving abilities in how they view themselves as mystery devotees and experts at complex puzzles. Their confidence in themselves adds to the joy of reading how the mystery unfolds. The camaraderie between them is genuine and their dynamics are balanced with bantering, sleuthing, and friendship.
A classic whodunit with a “closed-door” mystery element creates suspense and high stakes as you know the killer is on the ship and everyone is a suspect. The format creates a compact story with one location that puts a playful – and murderous – spin on a vacation for these friends. Danger on the SS Orient is a charming mystery that sets sail for a whodunit filled with murder, sleuthing and witty retorts.