K.K. Beck •
Death in a Deck Chair •
Like ocean voyages? Like classic whodunits? Like the Roaring Twenties? Death in a Deck Chair delivers on all three counts.
Iris Cooper is a sensible girl, not some empty-headed flapper bent only on pleasure. But after years of toiling to raise her younger brothers and sisters, she’s ready for a little fun. As the book opens, Iris is on the last leg of a thrilling round-the-world cruise, courtesy of wealthy Aunt Hermione, before settling down to her freshman year at Stanford.
It gets even more thrilling when dead bodies start turning up on shipboard.
Iris, who happens to know shorthand, is drafted to take down the passengers’ statements, giving her a ringside seat for the murder investigation. The suspects sound like characters in a game of Clue: the silent-screen vamp, the French nobleman en route to marry a cotter-pin heiress, the brash young journalist, the mustachoied colonel.
The Slavic professor seems more concerned with the vegetable course than with the violent death of his own secretary: “So young, so tragic. Could I trouble you for the asparagus? And the sauce . . . not really enough lemon, is there? I can’t imagine what fiend has perpetrated such an unspeakable offense.” Iris comments drily, “I imagined he was referring to the murder and not to the hollandaise.”
Iris returns in two equally enjoyable sequels, both heavily laced with her annoyance at—and attraction to—reporter Jack Clancy. Beck has a knack for nifty titles: Murder in a Mummy Case centers on Egyptian archaeology and occult phenomena, twin obsessions during the 1920s, and Peril Under the Palms finds Iris investigating the murky past of a Hawaiian sugarcane dynasty. All three books are buoyed by engaging narration and peppered with Beck’s sly comedic touches.