I love a good murder mystery – especially one where the killer and the victims are all stuck in the same place, so when I needed to pick up a new read, A Fatal Crossing leapt out at me from my bookshelf. When a man dies on a voyage from Britain to America, there are suspicions it may have been murdered and the murderer could still be on the ship!
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A Fatal Crossing is a book I was partly drawn to by the cover but also because I’ve seen some positive things about it from murder mystery fans. Set in 1924, between the wars, the Voyageur has set sail for New York. Everyone onboard has their reasons for travelling and someone on board has boarded the ship with the intention of killing – but for what?
A Fatal Crossing plot – 4/5
The best thing about A Fatal Crossing is the ideas behind it. Hindle has come into this book with a plan and tried his absolute best to execute it. Unfortunately, at times it does feel like Hindle is filling gaps in between his best plot moments.
There’s a lot of repetition of the same interactions between the main two protagonists – I guess in an attempt to build up to the climax where everything is revealed but it’s done in a fairly lazy way where no new information is slowly revealed.
Despite these couple of flaws, there’s a lot to like here – the plot moves relatively quickly, you do actually have to try and work some bits out for yourself as you’re going along, and there are some nice twists which explain a lot of the story and it’s all built around some relatively developed characters.
A Fatal Crossing characters – 3.5/5
He writes “relatively developed characters” and then gives a 3.5/5 I hear you say. Well, our main protagonist, Timothy Birch, an officer on the ship, is a relatively likeable man. Neither he nor James Temple, the detective on board who leads the case are overly enjoyable as people. Neither of them has a sense of humour, neither seems to particularly like anyone and they don’t really offer that strong of an opinion of anything in life.
The supporting characters in A Fatal Crossing are all really quite similar – they’re all relatively posh people who don’t add much to the story other than names to remember when you’re trying to piece together how everyone knows each other or how they might be linked to the murder.
I refer to the characters as “relatively well developed” as with both Birch and Temple, Hindle tries to build some back story – attempting to give them some history and motive behind the actions they’re taking. And despite both of their backstories being quite interesting, neither really adds a lot to their personalities, unfortunately.
A Fatal Crossing final rating – 3.75/5
A Fatal Crossing by Tom Hindle seemed right up my street before I read it. It was a murder mystery set on a ship that people had likened to Agatha Christie. It does a great job of setting a scene and then giving a motive for the murder. However, with a slow plot, lacklustre characters and the feeling of a forced twist at the end, it’s not going to be blowing anybody’s minds with its story and innovation anytime soon. If you like a cosy murder mystery, you may find something quite enjoyable here. Either way, stick with it and you’ll definitely enjoy it more.