A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys
There is something of a mix of old and new in A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys. If you have ever enjoyed reading the classic old mysteries, then I would make a note of this book’s release date and pre-order a copy because you will enjoy reading this old school mystery.
The story unfolds not on land as you may expect but at sea during a five week sailing from Tilbury Docks to the other side of the world. August 1939 and Britain is on the verge of World War II and for many the world would change forever. The story centres around Lillian Shepherd she is young and has left her job as job as a servant and is now seeking a new life for herself in Australia. Leaving behind a country teetering on the brink of an abyss. Once on board the Liner Orontes Lilian begins to see a life full of difference the wealthy and those fleeing from the Nazi regime that is about to engulf all of Europe. The real beauty in Rachel Rhys writing is that the pace of the story is somewhat leisurely it is not hurried now bearing in mind this is a story unfolding on a long voyage aboard ship.
All the passengers have stories to tell and there is a real mix of people and nationalities on the ship for Lily with whom you have a real sense of feeling the question I guess is Lilian leaving or running away, the answer lies within the pages of A Dangerous Crossing. Lilian soon settles into being a passenger as opposed to the role of being a servant. While on the voyage she has a chance to mingle with the passengers including those who would I guess look down on her. In the confines on a ship you are always going to find a rich mix of characters and taking into consideration the timing of the events there are some interesting people Lily meets including sitting at a table with George Price and his support for Hitler and racist tone. Lilian makes friends with Maria Katz a young Jewish woman fearing for life and who has left behind a Europe amid rumours of Jewish persecution ahead of Hitler’s rape of Europe cities.
Along the journey the Orontes docks at various ports to take on more passengers and provisions and Britain is soon left behind as well as Lilian’s past as the story progresses Lilian settles into her ‘new lifestyle’ and gets to know her close circle of passengers. Sometimes though just when you think you know someone you actually don’t know them at all. And this is the crux of the story as much later into the story something happens that will shake Lilian’s faith in that.
This is superb piece of writing telling of differing people, and faiths all in a mixing bowl aboard ship at a time when the world was about to embark on fighting tyranny. There was something that struck me as I read A Dangerous Crossing something of the current times we are living in. All a bit worrying really. But this is wonderfully crafted story told in a way of the old mystery novels of times gone by. The documents at the end of the book tell of a true story on the Liner Orontes while on a voyage to Australia.
Thank you to Alison Barrow for the advanced review copy.
A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys is published by Doubleday and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops from 23 March. Available now to pre-order.