Reading List: Murderers Set Sail!

Wash up on beautiful shores in far-flung places with this reading list. Sail across the English channel, down the Nile, across the Atlantic, or to the shores of New Zealand, but watch out there’s at least one killer on every voyage.

Murderer’s Trail by J. Jefferson Farjeon (Ben the Tramp)

Ben the Tramp is wandering the foggy streets of Limehouse; this ex-sailor and tramp are just looking for a place to sleep and know there are lots of places at the dockyard to sleep. However, Ben, the Tramp, is not alone in the quiet dock and stumbles on a dead body- and a murderer! Frantic to escape, Ben The Tramp stowaway on a ship heading for Spain. On the vessel, he discovers a young pickpocket hiding from the murderer. As they try to keep their distance from kidnappers and thieves- danger lurks behind every corner. A 1930s classic of the Golden Age genre was masterfully republished in 2016 to enrapture a new generation.

Mystery in the Channel by Freeman Wills Crofts (Inspector French, 7)

A puzzling mystery for those interested in ships and sailing, as the Chichester makes its routine channel crossing, the steamboats crew notices a yacht bobbing in the channel that appears to be abandoned. A dark pool of crimson blood is on the deck. Two dead bodies with bullet holes are found on the yacht, but neither has a gun. Inspector French is called in to investigate the deaths and discovers they are two powerful men in the banking. It’s 1931, and with the Wall Street crash looming heavily, there’s no shortage of enemies for these two. As Inspector French embarks on this intricate police procedural, he’s drawn into a world of luxury and high society where a deadly killer is hiding. Republished in 2017 as a part of the British Library Crime Classics series, this thriller is timeless.

Murder Above the Silver Waves by Blythe Baker (Lillian Crawford, 1)

Get cozy with this idyllic voyage across the Atlantic on a luxury ocean liner. Lillian Crawford and her twin brother, Felix are basking in wealth and happy to relax until Lillian stumbles across a dead body on a moonlit stroll around the ship. Once spoiled and pampered, these two become suspects in the man’s death. With nobody to help them- they have to wisen and toughen up- before they are dropped overboard by a killer or locked up when they reach England. An interesting debut novel from well-known historical mystery novelist Blythe Baker.

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot, 17)

Hercule Poirot investigates when Linnet Ridgeway is shot through the head on a sleepy pleasure cruise down the Nile on her honeymoon. He uncovers that nearly everyone on the boat has a reason to dislike Linnet Ridgeway, from her embezzling lawyer to her ex-best friend, to a woman ruined by the Ridgeway family; some people would benefit significantly from her death. One of Agatha Christie’s premier works that shouldn’t be missed. Float down the Nile, but beware, killers abound!

Death by Water by Kerry Greenwood (Phryne Fisher Mysteries, 15)

One of the best books in the Phryne Fisher oeuvre, it boasts luxurious accommodations, scrumptious meals, romance, and a first-rate mystery. On the S. S. Hinemoa, Phryne Fisher is carrying the Greet Queen of Sapphires as bait for a cunning jewel thief stalking wealthy clients on the P & O luxury liner. The thief, having already made off with several jewels on previous voyages, seems to be very good at getting into locked rooms or stealing them off unsuspecting ladies but meets a formidable adversary in Phryne Fisher. She keeps her wits and beretta close as she sets sail from Australia to New Zealand, making friends with local Maori Islanders and powerful enemies. She will have to outwit blackmailers, kidnappers, and a ruthless killer.

Let me know your favorite mystery set on the water, and we can set sail for some new adventures.


One thought on “Reading List: Murderers Set Sail!

  1. I’m a big fan of Death on the Nile and also Christie’s short story Problem at Sea. Delighted to find four more writers to explore! I love the sea and cruises make for a good locked-room set-up.


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