Locked room mysteries set on a ship
October 20, 2017 11:10 AM   Subscribe

I suddenly have the desire to read a locked-room mystery set on a ship. (The murder must take place on the ship, no smuggling a corpse aboard.) Suggest to me any of these you have read and enjoyed, except the Mary Russell one, as I gave up on that series.

Feel free to extend this -- I'm not against a locked room train mystery (I have read Murder on the Orient Express, yes), or a spaceship mystery (like Mur Lafferty's recent Six Wakes).
posted by jeather to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Depending on whether your definition of "reading" includes stories on computer screens, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors takes place on a ship and features many locked rooms and many murders.
posted by one for the books at 11:18 AM on October 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Deadlock, the second V.I. Warshawski novel from Sara Paretsky, has a locked-room on a ship (in a lock, no less!) mystery as one of the murders that all come together.
posted by klangklangston at 11:36 AM on October 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

You might enjoy Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard.
posted by Shoggoth at 11:51 AM on October 20, 2017

Polar Star by Martin Cruz Smith is a fun, twisty Soviet-era mystery that might fit the bill.
posted by merriment at 11:58 AM on October 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Murder on the Leviathan, Boris Akunin (it's described as a "tip of the hat" to Agatha Christie)
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 12:01 PM on October 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I really enjoyed The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:35 PM on October 20, 2017 [7 favorites]

Had not heard this genre named before and now that's all I want to read, so thanks!
posted by lois1950 at 12:43 PM on October 20, 2017

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle is not about a murder per se, but, all but a tiny fraction of the book happens at sea, and there is a mysterious murder at sea. More aimed at young adults, but a classic.
posted by zeek321 at 1:09 PM on October 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed "The Arrest of Arsène Lupin", a short story published in English in the collection "Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar" by Maurice Leblanc.

It was written in 1905 and translated to English fairly soon after, so some of the tropes will feel familiar but there's a decent chance that Leblanc invented a few of them. And it's only in writing this answer that I've thought to check: it's available on Project Gutenberg.

This plot summary contains major spoilers, but it's safe to know that Bernard d’Andrézy is enjoying a week-long steamship voyage from France to America when a radio transmission warns the ship that the infamous thief Arsène Lupin is hiding aboard. Given a clue about Lupin's alias and a partial description, the hunt is on!

The writing style has echoes of classic Sherlock Holmes -- it's about the puzzle and the chase -- except the recurring character with is almost the prototypical gentleman thief and master of disguise. And, this time, on a ship. Definitely worth a read.
posted by metaBugs at 1:13 PM on October 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

John Dickson Carr's The Blind Barber (1934) is a Golden Age classic set on board an ocean liner. For me, Carr's attempts at humour make the novel almost unreadable, but it's an ingenious piece of plotting, with the added twist that the detective solves the mystery without even having been on board.

Eric Ambler's Journey Into Fear (1940) is a political thriller set on board a passenger ship from Istanbul. It's a whodunit cleverly turned on its head: the protagonist is the intended murder victim, who has to race against time to work out which of the other passengers is trying to kill him. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the ship is very well done.

Freeman Wills Crofts wrote several mysteries with a maritime theme, including The Sea Mystery (body found in a crate dumped at sea), Mystery in the Channel (yacht found adrift in the English Channel with two dead men aboard), and The Loss of the Jane Vosper (cargo ship sunk by mysterious explosions in the hold). If you like police procedurals with geeky details about tide tables, these are for you.
posted by verstegan at 1:20 PM on October 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Johannes Cabal: The Detective, by Jonathan L. Howard. If you don't mind a little steampunk fantasy—it's set on an aeroship—and made-up Eastern European politics. The writing is very jaunty and cozy, and the protagonist is an irate necromancer. Hilariously funny and great fun to read. The Detective is the second book in a series featuring Johannes Cabal, but you don't need to have read the first to enjoy it.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 1:56 PM on October 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Also in the vein of "The Blind Barber" by John Dickson Carr is Murder in the Submarine Zone by Carter Dickson...aka John Dickson Carr. But since it's a Carter Dickson book, that means it's Sir Henry Merrivale instead of Dr Gideon Fell.

ETA: Here's a list of on-ship mysteries.
posted by Fortran at 4:04 PM on October 20, 2017

The earliest list here has one of my favorites on it: Death by Water set in the late 1920s, by Kerry Greenwood. It's part of her Phryne Fisher series, a rich amateur detective in Australia. This is fascinating, not only for the cruising info but also for the Maori information. Lots of fun.
posted by MovableBookLady at 4:47 PM on October 20, 2017

You might enjoy the graphic novel Whiteout, set at McMurdo Base in Antarctica. It's not specifically a locked-room mystery (the murder takes place outdoors) but uses many of the same tropes as a classic locked-room story.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 8:05 PM on October 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you like classic British cozies, Crime de Luxe: A Benvenuto Brown Mystery will fill the bill! It's 1930s locked room murder on the luxury liner Atalanta's Atlantic crossing. A little drier than Christie, but well plotted and well written!
posted by tinymojo at 10:51 PM on October 20, 2017

Death Under Sail by C. P. Snow takes place on a yacht.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:04 AM on October 21, 2017

At the risk of giving your something you didn't ask for maybe check out the visual novel 999.

This is the first sentence of the plot:

At the start of the game, Junpei wakes up in a cabin inside a cruise liner, wearing a bracelet displaying the number "5".
posted by laptolain at 9:14 AM on October 21, 2017

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