I love ships, but I remember being horribly seasick way back when I was a child and we took transatlantic liners to Europe so naturally I have always been reluctant to do what I’d really like to do and which my father did -- sail on a freighter sometime. I love the looks of the classic liner, even the modern cruise ship’s lines have appeal. But after watching YouTube videos of cruises and seeing the number of passengers they cram on board with golf courses and rock climbing and shopping and all that bullshit, I am thoroughly deterred. When (and if) I ever go to sea, I want to be at sea, not on some floating resort with people my age. Ugh.
That doesn’t mean I dislike reading about ships. That’s why I bought several books in the Henry Grave series. He’s an investigator for the Cruise Line Association. He’s also old (eighties) but he’s a cunning fellow, so when an FBI profiler, who was a lecturer on a cruise ship and famous for his capture of the Crossing Guard Killer, is found dead at the top of the rock climbing wall. Grave has a bizarre background and he’s funny talking about it: “We Googled you,” Hugh Arlen said, interrupting my train of thought. “That’s a computer term. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the internet.” “I once had a number calculating machine.” “We learned some interesting things about you. You were a POW.” “I was. It was the most intensive weight reduction program money can buy. I was quite thin by the end. Also, I lost four teeth, but that’s a story for another day. I had them replaced. You can see just back here.” I leaned forward and opened my mouth wide.
Needless to say he appears totally innocuous. But very clever. Having known a talented forger in the POW camps, he has an entire collection of fake ID cards. And who would question and old man’s veracity? Interviewing one couple he hands them a card. Wrong card. Turns out it says he’s from Penthouse.
I frowned. I looked at the card. I think it wasn’t the one I was looking for. “Just freelance. An article here and there.” “It says here you’re the senior editor.” Opal pointed to the title under my name. I found my glasses and had a closer look. So it did. “It’s a thankless job,” I told them. Opal backed off a little. “I had grand ideas when I took the job. We were going to move into whole new areas; more focus on the environment, alternative energies, orphans and koala bears, that sort of thing. I felt the magazine had gotten off track with all the nudity.” “But it’s a pornography magazine,” Doug insisted. “Nudity is its track.” I nodded. “Which is why they fired me as senior editor, but I still get to write hard-hitting articles. Last month I wrote about teenage runaways in Egypt. They leave their families and then go to the pyramids to try to make it there but they can’t find work so they just sniff glue at the pyramids. It’s very sad. You have no idea how young these kids are.”
Delightful read. A whole series awaits.
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