It was while looking at what was new on Stop You're Killing Me
, that I came across this intriguing description of a character by author William Doonan,
Henry Grave, an 80-something investigator for the Association of Cruising Vessel Operators:
Grave Passage (2009)
Mediterranean Grave (2011)
Since I am married to a man who is 84, and am desperate for a cruise, it took me all of about two seconds to decide to download one of these cozy mysteries. (Given the choice between downloading a copy of the second book of the series for $2.99 and paying $22.95 for a paperback copy of the first, I didn't dither.)
Henry Grave is the 84 year old senior investigator for the Association of Cruising Vessel Operators who has been sent to investigate a murder onboard the Vesper, an older cruising yacht that is in the middle of a themed Mediterranean cruise. A WWII vet and survivor of a POW camp, Henry lives at Rolling Pines, "a community of active seniors" in Pennsylvania and in his spare time manages a semi-professional roller derby team, "currently in second to last place." He falls deeply in love on every cruise but is willing to flirt with any female who comes within range. He also has a fondness for vodka tonics, frequent naps, and food.
Having clearly seen better days, the Vesper, equipped to accomodate 188 passengers, is only carrying 90 passengers, most of whom are looking for "spiritual renewal." The ship had as its featured guest, a "world famous guru and best-selling author. . . His latest is ‘Healing the Hurting Human Heart.’”
The ship was carrying a valuable Minoan cup known as the Pasiphae Vessel from its place of discovery in Alexandria to Athens for restoration. An Egyptian federal agent was assigned to accompany it on its journey. But the agent is killed and the cup has disappeared. Henry Grave's job is to find the cup and the murderer.
During the course of the search and the cruise, wonderfully strange characters are introduced and examined by this charming, seemingly befuddled gentleman with his fondness for the ladies and vodka tonics. It was good fun, and included some laugh out loud moments that surprised me.
Some of the details of shipboard life make it obvious that the author, William Doonan, has spent time on cruise ships. According to his own website
is a writer and anthropology professor in Sacramento, CA. He has spent years working as an archaeologist, and years lecturing on cruise ships, traveling the world and speaking on issues as diverse as the Trojan War, piracy in the Adriatic, and the peopling of the Americas. And he loves a good mystery!
It was a perfect antidote for my distressing condition although I did have a few issues with Doonan's depiction of men of a certain age, especially his claim that they tend to nod off unexpectedly. My husband had never done so although he does enjoy flirting with young women, but only in the nicest possible way.
One afternoon as my husband was resting on the examining table in his doctor's office while we were waiting for test results to come back, I started reading this book to him. I thought it would take his mind off of his bad back and help to pass the time. Even though in pain, he chuckled at the appropriate places. However, a few pages into the third chapter I happened to glance up at him, and sure enough, he had fallen asleep. So perhaps Doonan does know 84 year old men better than I do.