England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …
Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.
What has she done?
This was such a treat to read. I absolutely lost myself aboard Rachel Rhys’ fantastic novel. Dangerous Crossing is a wonderfully evocative depiction of life aboard a floating world and I lost myself in the twists and turns of the passengers I met on board.
Lily Shepherd is sailing to Australia on the Orontes as part of the Government’s assisted-passage scheme for domestic workers. Her plan is to seek employment as a maid when she arrives and at first is entranced by the strange newness of life aboard this very different world.
Her two companions are very different to her and her homesickness threatens to overwhelm her until she is diverted by glamorous Eliza – who’s from a very different social class. Dazzling and vivacious Eliza leads Lily down a intriguing, confusing and sometimes dangerous pathway where the normal boundaries become blurred in the glamorous and heady and atmosphere she now finds herself in.
I loved it so much, I made this collage immediately after reading it.
Lily is a fantastic narrator: because she is so entranced by the life aboard the Orontes, we see life on board through her eyes and find it as fascinating, magical and glamorous as she does. Her growing friendship with mysterious Edward and his sister Helena provides an interesting counterpoint to her adventures with the glamorous and outré Eliza Campbell and the reader develops a dawning sense that most people aboard have some sort of secret that they are hiding as they follow Lily deeper and deeper into the ship’s web of intrigue.
Rachel Rhys’ pedigree as a writer of thrillers is wonderfully apparent as the plot skilfully sails towards its conclusion. Rhys definitely gives Agatha Christie a run for her money in terms of keeping the reader guessing and leaves lots of red herrings as Lily gets more and more out of her depth in understanding anyone’s true motives or who she can truly trust. I hate giving spoilers, so I’m definitely avoiding too much detail about exactly what secrets and lies are being kept aboard the Orontes – but it definitely kept me turning the pages in Crete as I raced towards its conclusion.
The period is deftly conjured and the heady atmosphere is skilfully realised by Rachel Rhys. I love this pre-war period, its glamorous clothing, the dances and drinks on board, the sense that the world is changing around them as they hang suspended in a closed world where time is almost suspended in their own claustrophobic world. As the Orontes sails into warmer waters, the atmosphere and tensions also ‘heat up’ around Lily whose naivety and innocence mean that we often see more than she is telling us which is a very effective means of subtly increasing the tension as we go.
I’ve never been on a cruise and I loved the way that Dangerous Crossing allowed me to vicariously experience the glamour, intrigue and excitement from my sun lounger in Crete. I read this in a single day, I was so fascinated by Lily’s tale and I desperately wanted to know who was being escorted off the ship at the start of the novel. The plotting is deft, the characters are larger than life and wonderfully painted and the setting is gorgeous. This is an amazing read and I absolutely adored it. If you like your thrillers dark and chilling, this might not appeal to you – but if, like me, you enjoy a great read with a twist in the tale then you’ll definitely love it too. The climax was well worth the wait – and I definitely hadn’t guessed the outcome and actually dropped the book when the secret was revealed!
Thanks so much for Anne Cater for inviting me aboard on the Blog Tour – It was definitely a voyage I didn’t want to end. I’d love to see this on the screen and I’m keeping my fingers crossed as I think it would be amazing. I’ve already spent time casting Eliza, Lily and Edward in my mind…
Doesn’t it look fabulous in my #OnTheShelfie?
I actually loved this book so much, I made the collage above and quite a few GIFs too.
It’s that good. You should definitely treat yourself. All aboard the Orontes!
Published in Paperback August 10th 2017 by Transworld (UK)