The Spanish Diplomat’s Secret by Nev March: 4.5****

Book 3 in this marvelous series by Nev Marsh follows Captain Jim and Lady Diana as they take a relaxing ocean cruise to England only to have their vacation trip interrupted by Jim’s seasickness and eventually the gruesome death of a passenger onboard. The ships captain enlists Jim, who has become a detective in America after his life in the British/Indian army, to lead the investigation into finding the murderer among the ships passengers and before they reach England. The book is set in the 1890’s and even then there were cruise liners that plied the seas in luxury as it the case today, and while the ships were smaller back then there were still over 500 passengers or crew who could be the murderer. As always Lady Diana is a silent and reassuring presence and, in my opinion, has much more intuitive understanding of people, and solving clues. There are only 6 days in which to solve this murder, and along the way we meet many of the wealthy first class passengers, their aides, nurses and assistants, as well as many of the crew. Making this more intriguing is that the murder took place in a locked meeting room onboard this moving ship so there is nowhere for the assailant to hide.
And, as with all great mysteries, along the way we have people falling overboard, suicides, attacks on other passengers, and even an attack on Captain Jim! What elevates this novel is the wonderful use of history as part of the overall plot. Spain is in their usual state of civil war, the Spanish diplomat used to be the Spanish governor of Cuba, we learn how the Bases de Manresa situation fits into the plot, as well as the infamous Virginius affair in Cuba also is a driving force in the plot. As the author so eloquently puts it, “A murder and a suicide, occult sightings and stolen treasure. All on one ship.” It is all here in a well written, well designed book that keeps us guessing until the very end!

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