The Queen Isabella is making her last voyage, a two-week retro cruise to Hawaii and back, before being scrapped. No internet. No cell phones. No children. Everything is vintage and classic, from the food and drinks to the entertainment.
Christine Thorne, a journalist before becoming a farmer, is along to keep her friend company, and to experience a life of luxury. Mick Szabo, a Hungarian chef added to the crew at the last-minute, sees it as his chance to impress his famous boss and land a prestigious position. Miriam Koslow, a violinist for a string quartet for years, wants a peaceful trip.
But the voyage is marked by animosity among the crew and signs of cut corners by the cruise company. Soon the Queen Isabella faces its greatest challenge yet, leaving passengers and crew sinking in the turmoil.
The Last Cruise sounds like it would be a fast-paced thriller. It’s not. Instead, it moves slowly and languorously, allowing hints of trouble to peek through its glamourous façade. The odd assortment of characters just works together, and, along with the slow pace, helps cement the sense of low-lying dread that permeates the pages. The ending is not the most frustrating one I’ve ever read…but it’s on the list.
Kate Christensen is an award-winning author and memoirist. The Last Cruise is her newest novel.
(Galley provided by Doubleday in exchange for an honest review.)