Friday 2 August 2019

Forgotten Book - Death in a Deck Chair

Death in a Deck Chair is a novel written by K.K. Beck and published in 1984. Kathrine Kristine Beck (also known as Marris, a surname of one of the characters in the story), who also wrote as Marie Oliver, was a prolific American crime writer for the fifteen years up to 1999. She was married to the talented British crime novelist Michael Dibdin, who sadly died in 2007, but why she gave up writing herself when she was still under the age of 50, I don't know. She originated from Seattle and evidently worked in advertising, as so many detective novelists have done.

This novel is very much in the American "cosy" tradition. It's set in the summer of 1927, and introduces an attractive 19 year old girl, Iris Cooper, who proceeded to appear in two further novels before Beck moved on to produce other stories. And it's another cruise ship story, as Iris and her aunt Hermione take a trip on board the luxury liner HMS Irenia, sailing from Southampton back home to Portland, Oregon.

Iris befriends a shy young man called Twist, who is secretary to Professor Probrislow, a specialist in criminal lunacy. She is, however, warned against Twist by the ship's pianist. The other passengers include a Count, a Cardinal, a German governess, a newspaperman, a judge, and the rather enigmatic Mrs Destinoy-Pinchot.

Before long, someone is murdered, and a rather inept investigation is conducted on board, with Iris brought in to perform secretarial services. Needless to say, she decides to try her hand at amateur sleuthing. I'm afraid my attention was beginning to wander even before a Ruritanian-style European kingdom was introduced into the storyline. My worst fears were confirmed when affairs in Graznia proved to play an important part in the plot. It's quite competently done, but it was all too tame for me, I'm sorry to say. Death in a Deck Chair makes the typical Agatha Christie look like something by Jim Thompson.



Miranda James said...

Kathrine's later books are much better and have more to offer. I particularly recommend The Renvenge of Kali-Ra and the Jane da Silva "hopeless case" series. She had trouble finding a consistent publisher, unfortunately for her readers.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Miranda. I appreciate the recommendations.