Agatha Christie’s “Death on the Nile” is splendidly parodied by David Wake in this locked room murder mystery set aboard the Victorian paddle steamer SS Karnak. Yes, folks, the protagonists appear to travel on the very boat Hercule Poirot chose for his rather too exciting holiday in Egypt. This time, the ship sails down the Suez Canal with an assorted cast of characters including a libidinous Frenchman, an Indian mystic, two archaeologists and a couple of stiff upper lip British army men. They are accompanied by the Derring-Do Club, three plucky young women whose parents have forbidden them to do any adventuring, ever. A murder investigation doesn’t count as an adventure, however, so middle sister Georgina is roped in as investigating officer when one of the archaeologists takes a fatal bullet. With humour worthy of Terry Pratchett, David Wake leads Georgina and her sisters on a merry dance through the desert, in which they nearly (but of course, not quite) die before the case is cracked.
Locked room murder mystery
There are at least nine suspects, all with alibis and no apparent means of shooting a man whose corpse has been found in a room locked from the inside. The method, when Georgina finally deduces it, is a twist worthy of the Queen of the Crime herself.
Magic carpets, romance & adventure
“Death on the Suez” is so much more than a murder mystery, however. It’s a rip-roaring adventure featuring mummies, guns, magic carpets, a marvellous calculating machine, ancient gods and temples. There’s also dash of romance, running like a thread throughout the narrative and beautifully tied at the end. Throughout, David Wake writes well, his gentle British humour lampooning Victorian mores. He never puts a foot wrong, and the pages just keep turning.
Like David Wake, I’m a British writer, and my stories are fast-paced page turners. The Trail series of crime thrillers begins with a mystery when fake bride Kat White goes missing. Take a look at The Bride’s Trail here.