ARC Review: Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys


DangerousCrossingCoverOfficial Synopsis from Goodreads: The ship has been like a world within itself, a vast floating city outside of normal rules. But the longer the journey continues, the more confined it is starting to feel, deck upon deck, passenger upon passenger, all of them churning around each other without anywhere to go…

1939: Europe is on the brink of war when young Lily Shepherd boards an ocean liner in Essex, bound for Australia. She is ready to start anew, leaving behind the shadows in her past. The passage proves magical, complete with live music, cocktails, and fancy dress balls. With stops at exotic locations along the way—Naples, Cairo, Ceylon—the voyage shows Lily places she’d only ever dreamed of and enables her to make friends with those above her social station, people who would ordinarily never give her the time of day. She even allows herself to hope that a man she couldn’t possibly have a future with outside the cocoon of the ship might return her feelings.

But Lily soon realizes that she’s not the only one hiding secrets. Her newfound friends—the toxic wealthy couple Eliza and Max; Cambridge graduate Edward; Jewish refugee Maria; fascist George—are also running away from their pasts. As the glamour of the voyage fades, the stage is set for something sinister to occur. By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and Lily’s life will be changed irrevocably.

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.

LINKS ***the Amazon link is an affiliate link which means I receive a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase***


Does this sound like an interesting read? Do you enjoy reading mysteries set on ships?


11 thoughts on “ARC Review: Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

  1. Ooooh, I do like a mystery set at sea, and I do love stopping in exotic locales. Would I enjoy it if there were no real mystery? I think I might … i’ll Let you know when I get around to reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this one, but agree that the suspense aspect is fairly minor. I think there’s a tendency these days for authors to stick a crime or thriller bit into what would otherwise just be a straight fiction, presumably because crime novels sell better. But I’m never sure it’s a good idea – it tends to mean people go into them with false expectations and then get disappointed. And don’t get me started on misleading blurbs! Glad the ending made you feel it had been worthwhile though… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I definitely think I would’ve enjoyed this a bit more if I hadn’t been expecting something suspenseful & mysterious. Then that ending would’ve been a pleasant surprise and I probably would’ve rated the book higher. But, then perhaps I wouldn’t have ever requested the ARC and never read the book to begin with. Who knows!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Woman in Cabin 10 made me feel a bit claustrophobic, especially since the Wi-Fi and cell reception were out on board, so I see what you mean. Right now I’m reading a book set in 1979 and 1989 (the sections alternate), and it’s a slow burn, which is driving me nuts. BUT. I keep wanting to read the book for some reason, too, a reason I can’t explain. Do you know how to explain it? I’ve always struggled with articulating the slow burn compulsive read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I still need to read The Woman in Cabin 10! I keep forgetting about that title, but it’s one that I want to read. The slow burns feel leisurely to me – like a book I don’t have to race through.


  4. It’s funny, I actually have to disagree with you I think, I found the book really suspenseful. But maybe it’s just because i like to gossip, and all the characters’s backstories were exceedingly interesting to me LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve read a lot of reviews on this book by people who loved it, and I can see why it is enjoyed by so many! I think I went into it expecting something a bit different, and so therefore didn’t find it as suspenseful as most did. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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