Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

Anna Carey A Dangerous Crossing By Rachel Rhys Doubleday, £12.99

Anyone for a cruise?  The morning of my last book group meeting, when we discussed a mystery/thriller offering entitled Woman in Cabin 10,  I received a text from a friend asking me and my family if we wanted to plan a 2019 cruise with them.  Love the family but this was not the book to read before that invitation!   That thought was still in my head when I read the newly released novel Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys. Rachel Rhys is a pseudonym for Tammy Cohen, author of several thrillers.  This is her first historical fiction offering, and it does have a twinge of thriller.

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It is 1939 and the world is on the brink of the Second World War.  Passengers assemble to take a 5 week cruise from England to Australia, each leaving behind a secret and yearning for a fresh start.  Lily has lost her best friend and her suitor, and plans to enter service in Australia.  Edward has been in a sanitorium, and heads down under to recover, accompanied by his sister Helenna.  Max and Eliza are first class passengers who befriend them, hiding from scandal.  Maria is Jewish and looking for safety away from Austria. The premise on board is one of anonymity: not telling your secret and engaging in friendships and relationships that are free of the structure and confines of social class.  The question is, can you really escape your past, and can you live above the confines of class and race?  How will war affect their outcomes?

I found the characters and story lines engaging; they lived in my head even when I wasn’t reading.  Each character had a magnetism-something someone else desired-and each had a flaw.  I was interested in the dissemination of news.  The ship posted headlines regularly, but the headlines were curated.  The captain did not want a diverse ship aware of how close war was, or when it started, for fear of danger and chaos among the passengers.

I recommend Dangerous Crossing-read and be entertained, at least until the unease seeps into your psyche.  I look forward to more by Rachel Rhys!