Genre: Historical Suspense (although I didn’t find this suspenseful and feel that genre label is a bit misleading)
Setting: 1939, a ship sailing from England to Australia
***I received an eARC copy of Dangerous Crossing from the publisher, Atria Books, via NetGalley***
*** this post contains affiliate links ***
Review: Slow and not quite what I expected, but what an ending! The ending *almost* makes up for the slow journey to get there.
Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys is billed as an historical suspense novel, and I suppose in a way, that is true. It’s an historical setting, and once you read the authors note at the end (I don’t want to spoil it, but it shocked the heck out of me when I read it), you’ll get a bit more insight into the book. But, I hesitate to give the label of “suspense” to it. I found that there was almost nothing suspenseful about this book except for the ending. The mystery was such a slow build, that the majority of the novel is about Lily and her interactions with the people she meets on the ship. There are hints of Lily leaving England for a sad reason, but the mystery of her leaving never grabbed me. I didn’t really care why she was leaving. Was this because there wasn’t much information given about her decision? Or was there too much information? I’m not sure. I just never felt all that interested in the mystery of why she left.
Lily meets many people on the ship: siblings Edward and Helena, a glamorous married couple Max and Eliza, a Jewish woman fleeing Europe named Maria, and a Nazi sympathizer named George to name a few. I liked the characters, except for George, he was really rotten, but I never found them mysterious. In reading the synopsis, it makes the book sound as if there is mystery the whole way through, and this isn’t the case. There is zero mystery until someone disappears at 77%, and even then the disappearance felt like an afterthought. Now, I had some suspicions about the characters, like did so-and-so commit a crime, is another character hiding their identity, etc etc, but none of these suspicions made me feel like I was reading a suspense novel. They were just in the back of my mind as I read, and I never felt any overwhelming desire to find out the answers.
But then that wallop of an ending happened, which while I did have a few ideas hinting towards it, it still was surprising, and I enjoyed the book much more because of the strong ending. This is definitely a book for those who enjoy a slow burn, as I felt this was exceedingly slow up until the end, when everything comes together.
Another thing I’d like to point out is that I went into the book thinking that all of the scenes would be aboard the ship. I wasn’t paying attention to the synopsis where it mentions “exotic locations”, and we do get off the ship and visit many places, including Gibraltar, Pompeii, Port Said (to see the pyramids), and Ceylon, among others. I liked these glimpses of the shore, and it made the book feel a bit more open. Ships give me a claustrophobic feeling, and I was anticipating a book where no one can escape, and that wasn’t the case here.
So, while this was slightly different than I anticipated, and exceedingly slow, I did enjoy the ending. I enjoyed it even more after reading the author’s note at the end, and think that readers who enjoy a slow meander through a story would enjoy this. I’m just not sure I would label it suspense.
Bottom Line: A strong ending, but a slow journey to get there.