CLARION REVIEW * * * * * MYSTERY
The Body on the Lido Deck
Jane Bennett Munro
iUniverse (Aug 19, 2016)
Softcover $20.99 (290pp)
The Body on the Lido Deck will delight any lover of quirky mysteries and fascinating forensic crime novels.
The Body on the Lido Deck by Jane Bennett Munro is a brisk thriller with scientific smarts and solid detective work from a likable leading lady. 1
Pathologist Toni Day is sailing blissfully aboard the North Star on a Caribbean cruise with her family. One Sunday, just as dawn is breaking over the coast of Barbados, Toni is awakened by odd noises out on the Lido deck and leaves her cabin to investigate. When the mangled body of a woman falls into the pool before her eyes, Toni uses
her keen curiosity, forensic expertise, and Scotland Yard connections to hunt a killer.
With only days left on the journey, more bodies surface, and Toni calls on the aid of her stepfather, a retired homicide detective. The two work quickly to solve the case and save the ship’s passengers-and themselves-from an invisible threat. From Barbados to Puerto Rico to the Fort Lauderdale port, The Body on the Lido Deck starts with a scream and ends with a satisfying snap.
Toni is feisty and fearless; diving into a swimming pool to examine a decapitated head is all in a day’s work for her, as is challenging the authority of both the ship’s crew and foreign police. She is a natural detective with scientific training, and she moves swiftly on her mission, asking limitless questions, performing an autopsy in the ship doctor’s small office, and using the resources at her disposal to collect and preserve valuable evidence. The technical lingo on the details of pathology appears to be spot-on but readable, and even a novice to the inner workings of the post-mortem process can follow Toni’s explanations.
Despite her initial busybody demeanor, as a narrator, Toni brings a heaping dose of heart to the story. As caring as she is tenacious, her actions are driven by justice and truth. Her affection for her family is evident as she works to balance her fast-paced work life with her longtime marriage to Hal, a professor, and her close relationship
with her prim and proper mother, Fiona. Toni entertains and exasperates everyone on board in her pursuit for clues. She is perceptive and cautious, bubbly and authentic, and the story is effectively told in first person, keeping Toni relatable and self-aware.
At times, the book unfolds so rapidly that it’s tempting to get lost in the waves of information. Each port of call adds more supporting characters, as well as potential killers and victims, but Munro’s plot-driven writing keeps the story on course.
This book offers believable dialogue, a breakneck pace, and a unique story that breathes new life into the literary murder-comedy genre. It’s Jessica Fletcher meets CS/, with the usual crime-scene gore and droning medical jargon now wrapped up in a charming, entertaining package.
The Body on the Lido Deck will delight any lover of quirky mysteries, easy-to-read medical dramas, and fascinating forensic crime novels.
Now let’s see if my head will fit through the door …