|Fred Hunter: Ransom at Sea|
Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover), ISBN 0-312-30066-2
In Ransom at Sea, Fred Hunter presents the ninth episode in the highly popular Ransom/Charters series. This installment finds Emily Charters and her traveling companion, Lynn Francis, embarking on a Lake Michigan cruise under the auspices of a church senior citizens group. The trip begins without incident, but the serenity ends abruptly with the brutal murder of a senile passenger on board the ship at its second port of call. With the ship held in port, Detective Jeremy Ransom rushes to the scene to aid his old friend, Emily Charters, in tracking down the killer.
The trail leads Ransom and Charters through a tangled path that
includes a mysterious stranger who appears at each port of call, an odd
relationship between two seemingly incompatible passengers, visions of
an unknown man inside the victim's stateroom, and the disappearance of
an intriguing brown box.
The unraveling of the mystery ambles at a pace commensurate with the ages of the parties involved. Ransom and Charters trace and re-trace every possible nuance while interviewing passengers and crew. Emily tirelessly pieces together in logical sequence seemingly unrelated and inconsequential bits of information. Eventually Emily's uncanny powers of keen observation and commonsense prevail. The murderer falls into a rather unimaginative trap and the reasonably transparent motive stands revealed.
As I skimmed and scanned through page after page of lengthy conversation and reprise of material already firmly established, flashbacks of the old Angela Lansbury television show Murder She Wrote continuously danced in my head. This book, unfortunately, provides only a fraction of the entertainment value of that moderately compelling classic. Loyal readers of the series no doubt appreciate its characters, format, and pace. By contrast, I found it a difficult read. On the other hand, I at least discovered the meaning of the word "propinquity."
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