William Doonan’s mystery novel, Grave Passage, is a trip worth taking. I had never been on a luxury cruise before I boarded the Contessa Voyager, but now I feel I’ve experienced it all: the pool and spa, the meals, the drinks, the gambling, the dances and romances—and the murder. Yes, luxury cruises can be hazardous to your health.
This novel is deliciously narrated by Henry Grave, who is helicoptered in to find out who offed a guest lecturer who had promised to reveal a secret that somebody else didn’t want revealed. Henry uncovers surprise after surprise, and each time he is surprised, he expresses his delight thus: “Well I’ll be god-damned.”
This guy has a voice that rings with surprises. Henry is an octogenarian, which makes him an unusual and original sleuth. As an old person, he’s entitled to his eccentricities. Because he’s a “little bit diabetic,” he eats all day long, except when he’s taking naps. He takes naps whenever he feels like it, wherever he feels like it, all over the ship. He never turns down a drink, be it Champagne or scotch or something orange with rum in it. He flirts with women of all ages: piano players, cocktail waitresses, trophy wives, TV stars, and women of a certain age who are traveling alone and on the prowl for adventure. Henry is a master of malapropisms. He forgets appointments.
But author William Doonan does not make fun of old people, and anyone who reads this book will admire Henry Grave for the bright and energetic detective that he is; and anyone who knows this fellow will want him as a friend. And perps beware. Henry Grave may be eccentric, but he gets the job done.
My only regret, having read this highly entertaining mystery? That George Burns isn’t alive to play Henry in the movie. That’s disappointing, and Henry would probably react thus:
Meanwhile, I’m nuts about Grave Passage, and you will be too.