Cover Image: Death on the Water

Death on the Water

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Member Reviews

Thank you SO much to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.

I absolutely loved this!! Such great characters and a great storyline.

My full review is to follow in a few days.....

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Death on the Water is an enticing whodunnit set on a cruise ship’s maiden voyage. Claire is a workaholic forced into taking a vacation to slow her life down. After hearing disturbing noises in the cabin next door and finding out that the occupant committed suicide, Claire’s investigative journalistic senses kick in. Teaming up with the assistant cruise director Moira, they set out to catch a murderer. 

I enjoyed this murder mystery as it is a light and easy read. Sort of a palette cleanser from all the dark and complicated stories I have just finished. The action begins immediately and doesn’t slow down until the end where a minute romance is played out. There is also a behind the curtain look at how cruise ships are run which tweaked my interest as I have never taken a cruise.

If you are looking for an entertaining and easy read murder mystery then you have found it in Death on the Water.

I received an advance review copy from Bold Strokes Books through NetGalley. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Was an ok read. The first few chapters were really interesting, UT after awhile it just became a bit boring. The main characters were great on their own, UT together not so much. I know a bit about cruise ships, and some of the things the author put in this book was really interesting and something I didn't know about . imagine being on board and having someone in the next cabin not alive, that's pretty creepy, makes me not want to go on a cruise again. All in all this was an ok read.

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The first couple of chapters were interesting, I enjoyed the brief introductions of both Claire and Moira and the dream sequence . However, the further I got into the book the more steam it seemed to lose. The dual povs, which I generally like, were not particularly well done and the story seemed to go in weird tangents. I could tell pretty early on this book wasn’t my cup of tea so unfortunately it was a DNF for me.

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I enjoyed this murder mystery set on a cruise ship. It is well written and the two main characters are likeable and well developed.

Claire is an investigative journalist who is "forced" to go on a cruise. Moira is the assistant Cruise Director on the ship. A man is dead by suicide in the cabin next door to Claire and she is sure it wasn’t suicide. Other murders follow and our intrepid pair are put at risk on several occasions as they work through the clues to find the truth.

There is a lot going on and the pacing was good. The ending felt a bit rushed but did at least answer all the questions. I wasn’t sure why Claire’s soon to be ex-husband was on the cruise and there were a couple of areas which felt a bit contrived but overall this was a solid story and I enjoyed reading it. I will certainly look out other books by Ms Birch.

I was given a copy of the book by NetGalley

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This was a fun read and I enjoyed the mystery! CJ Birch knows her stuff about cruise ships behind the scenes and that shines through here.

Clare is a journalist sent on a cruise by her agent and publisher to "relax" and try to head off a major health incident from her panic attacks. Moira is the assistant cruise activities director who gets roped into helping Clare investigate the death of the man in the cabin next door. What follows is a methodical clandestine investigation involving murder and greed. The two main characters are clearly attracted to one another but it is a very slow build-up that proceeds naturally and realistically - after all, Moira is crew and forbidden from relationships with passengers. I loved the behind-the-scenes glimpse into what goes into making a cruise ship run smoothly.

There are a couple of subplots that run along the main plot, which is to be expected. Thankfully, none of these overtake the main mystery, but is a bit frustrating that two of subplots left some questions unanswered. What did Frank really want to talk to Clare about? What could be so important that he arranged a very expensive way to get to talk to her, but then never really does? Why would her agent tell Frank where she was? And the way he could so easily get a ticket to a sold-out inaugural cruise was pretty glossed over. He doesn't really provide any crucial impetus to the plot except for one conversation that could easily be given by her agent instead. And what does he do for a living that (a) he can afford the cruise spur of the moment, and (b) that he would even be able to think about the information that he gives Clare? (spoilers left out for obvious reasons). The other annoying subplot involves the cruise director being a bitch - usually you find out reasons behind the attitude, but here we do not. So, in essence, she just serves as a foil for hijinks. This goes for a couple of other minor characters, too.

One other thing that I didn't really get answers to was the opening Moira scene where she is paying a crew member, Jimmy, to do something, but it never is stated what this is, nor why Jimmy would be in a position to affect the crew standing up for their rights. As you can tell, unanswered questions bug me.

The ending with the staggered reveals was very fun and I always enjoy books/movie/shows where you find out after the fact how things were done. My earliest memory of that type of ending was the movie Clue, which was simply delightful in showing how things could have been. So, "watching" a scene play out, then going back and showing how it was done was very fun. And the reveals kept coming, which was fun. How they exposed the murderer was also clever. Although I knew early on who my main suspect was, I always enjoy watching characters figure it out along the way (I'm a terrible person to watch mysteries with as 95% of the time I figure it out in the first 3rd).

The romance between the two leads is actually really well done. It develops slowly and never beyond a kiss until the epilogue, in which the two characters meet again one year later after a courtship through letters, calls, emails, etc. I liked this. And the payoff sex scene was worth it!

The turns of phrase throughout the book were highly enjoyable and the author has a way with words that just brings the scene and characters to life. Some examples:
1. "Marriage is a bit like having a place to store everything."
2. "Her makeup said 'I know I'm gorgeous without it', but there's nothing wrong with a little enhancement."
3. "I don't think any one nation has the monopoly on stupid." (this one made me laugh out loud)
4. "Do you ever meet anyone under the right circumstances?"

TL;DR: The mystery was 5-star, but the loose ends were frustrating. Averages to 3.5 stars.


A few other notes (may contain spoilers so stop reading now if you don't want to get any clues:
1. The Indiana Jones adventure part of the book was really fun, but a tad too far outside my suspension of belief. How/when were barriers removed? It is highly unlikely that the killer would have had time to do so. How did the individual know about the room if nobody had been there? Nothing indicated the killer had been there earlier to find the room - and, truly, it was impossible for the killer to be able to get there before the tour to scout it out. (major subplot irritation) If someone had been there before, I find it hard to believe that nobody would have figured out the solution to the room. The ropes and rafts would not have been in any condition to withstand centuries.
2. Moira is said to be Italian, however there is nothing in her character, mannerisms or conversational style that gives credence to this fact. She could have been American/Canadian from the way she was written.
3. A schematic of the cruise ship showing the various decks and where pools and elevators are located would have been helpful. It got confusing trying to picture how to get from place to place.
4. The characters failing to remember important clues they witnessed until the "right place" story-wise frustrates me. Both characters are written as being very observant but they don't remember big clues? I can think of several examples early in the story that clued me in immediately and the characters should have remembered these as they involved a few pages of storyline.
5. The ending felt very rushed. The book had been proceeding at a very steady pace, but in the very last part of the book, there are major BIG reveals that felt very compressed. The mystery develops methodically throughout the first 3/4 of the book , but it almost felt like an info dump when Clare has a conversation with one of the other characters - it felt almost too tidy how it all came out.

I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review..

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A good murder mystery with plenty of twists to engage your interest. The author clearly knows about cruises as I learnt a lot about who works on them, the facilities, what entertainment is offered, even a bit on storms and navigation. Interesting, and totally confirmed that I never want to go on a cruise. But, I did enjoy the story. There are a few holes and I’m not sure what purpose Frank served. Also I know it’s the genre, but the sex scene at the end wasn’t really needed as it was just an add on.

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While i had fun reading this book, it had the potential to be rated higher. The author has a writing style that's easy to become immersed in. The descriptive style flowed easy. Unfortunately, the writer gave more to the description of the ship, less to the characters. I liked the interaction of the characters, I just wished I knew more about them. Even though the story left a little more to be desired, I'd still read another book written by the author.

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I’m a sucker for murder/romances and this was a good one.
The cruise ship setting was different and fun. I was hoping for a few more twists and turns but maybe that was my own high expectation.

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I'm a fan of CJ Birch and enjoy her books very much. However, this was not my favorite read. It was not what I expected. There were a few plots and twist but just not enough. After reading this I felt that I learnt more about the running of the cruise. The main character Claire husband served absolutely no purpose on the cruise. Why was he even there? However, I recommend as this might appeal to someone else.

Thank you, Bold Strokes Books, and NetGalley for this ARC.

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This book far exceeded my expectations after the first couple of chapters as I had to adapt to the story being told from both MC’s perspective alternately.
I admit to having expected it to be another cosy murder/romance story being able to guess the ‘baddies’ straight away but the author has written a great mystery murder with interesting twists to it. It also has an element of Indiana Jones to it as well at one point as well as a potential romance.
I don’t know if the author plans for this to be a standalone novel or to have this duo team up for more - hopefully the latter given how much I enjoyed the book.
Thanks to Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley for the ARC. The review reflects my opinion accurately.

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Death on the Water is a murder mystery set on a luxury cruise ship. Moira, an assistant cruise director, joins forces with Claire, a holidaying investigative journalist when a passenger is found dead presumably from suicide. The two main characters are not well described and the romantic element was unecessary, a friendship would have been more natural. Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for the arc.

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I received an ARC copy of this book from the Publisher via Netgalley and voluntarily leaving my review.

Claire is forced to take a vacation by her agent she goes on a cruise and what supposed to be relaxing becomes not so much a dead person is found which they rule is suicide. Claire doesn’t feel that’s the case and decides to investigate she gets help from one of the crew Moira who is assistant cruise director as they grow closer and dive into investigation there are bits of twist and turns as we have in crew backstabbing etc… but do they want continue when they may become the next victim. This was good mystery I like the build up and the author have great knowledge of cruises.

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Certainly an interesting start that had me intrigued from chapter 1. However the back and forth of P. O.V. had me all at sea.
I liked the way the mystery built up, also the bit of in crew backstabbing. The writer obviously has an inside knowledge of cruise ships. The crew backstabbing had a bit of depth rather than cartoonish, which I liked.
I’m not sure if I missed but it was only half way through I realised one of the mains was Italian.
The mystery ticked along and I’m not sure I kept up with all the moving parts. I did like how some explanations had me going Ahhh, as parts were explained. A couple of the characters had me unsettled as I wasn’t sure if they were goodies or baddies, but that added to the mystery. The romance was there but not the main part of the book, certainly not any meaningful break up to make up. More two people interested in each other, got together.

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Death on the Water has the vibe of a classic murder mystery. A workaholic journalist is more or less forcibly sent on a cruise by her agent and her publisher, in order to avoid burnout.

Things don't turn out quite as as planned though, because while Claire is on the cruise ship, the passenger in the neighbouring cabin is found dead. The death is ruled a suicide, but Claire has her suspicions.

She finds an ally in the Assistant Cruise Director, Moira. But soon it becomes evident that the duo may need to make a choice between actively pursuing the killer, or letting things lie and safely surviving the cruise themselves...

This book was a bit of a mixed bag. The story is fast moving, but the pacing is occasionally uneven. There are some elements of the story that lack consistency, and at least one major giveaway involving Amy, which I won't specify in order to avoid potential spoilers.

Overall, it was a fun read, but not one that was particularly a standout for me.

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This is my third book by this author and each has been a different genre. Death on the Water is a murder mystery set aboard the first voyage of a cruise ship. I’m looking forward to a cruise in a few months so I liked getting some of the ins and outs of working and being on a cruise ship. Moira is the assistant cruise director. She’s overworked and underpaid but loves and enjoys her job. When a person ends up dead it is ruled a suicide. Claire Mills is a renowned investigative journalist. She was forced on vacation by her publisher to take a break for her health's sake. But her room is next to the deceased and she suspects foul play. She convinces Claire to join her investigation as she needs her inside access and knowledge.

I enjoyed following the quick twists and turns but some plot points get brought up and dropped. Why is Claire’s soon to be ex-husband on the cruise? The list of suspects is fairly limited so it is easy to guess who the culprit is if you’re a mystery reader. When all was said and done though I felt I knew more about the cruise ship than either of the amateur sleuths. Physical descriptions are almost non-existent, ages are not included other than Claire has been married for 20 years. The thing you know most about them is their work. There is some background for each but nothing really personal. The story is likable and if they stumble on another mystery I’d read it. But if I’m going to connect to them for a romance I’d like a little more. (3.5 Stars)

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"Death on the Water" is a riveting murder mystery set on a cruise ship, rounded off with a hint of romance towards the end. At times, the pace feels too accelerated, with abrupt time jumps that can either lead to slightly clumsy exposition or leave the reader piecing together events.

The central murder mystery sometimes feels secondary, serving more as a backdrop to highlight the operations of cruise ships and their crew. This is both enlightening and intriguing, but occasionally leads to unresolved questions. For instance, there's a moment when Amy quotes verbatim the words found on a notepad in the deceased's room, and this crucial clue is surprisingly overlooked. Aspects like these left me as a reader somewhat bewildered. The characterization also felt inconsistent; while some personalities were fleshed out, others, like Claire, lacked depth in their description. The cultural and personal viewpoints sprinkled throughout the story, such as the romanticizing of certain aspects of Japanese culture or the comments on wigs, felt out of place.

The novel, while entertaining, lacked the depth that would have made it truly memorable. Nevertheless, I found it an enjoyable read overall. 🌟3.5 stars, rounded up to 4🌟.

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Death on the Water is a fast-paced murder mystery on a cruise ship, with a dash of romance at the end. It's sometimes a bit too fast-paced, with time jumps everywhere, sometimes in the middle of a scene, leading to either awkward exposition at the other end, or leaving the reader to piece together what happened.

The murder mystery itself feels more at times like a vehicle to show how cruise ships and their staff operate. While entertaining and interesting, it sometimes leaves more unanswered than resolved. There are a number of clues that seem pushed to the side, like when Amy recites almost exactly the words discovered on the pad of paper in the murdered man's room and absolutely no one does anything with this information. Even the narrative kind of forgets about it, which as a reader threw me for a loop trying to piece everything together. This also extends to the characters, with points about their lives and personalities popping in and out - most notably Claire's husband, who shows up with a conversation that they never have, and only seems to serve the purpose of providing a place for Claire to crash that the killer on board wouldn't know about.

The most jarring for me (aside from a few opinions, like romanticizing Japan for having a word for death by overwork, and that wigs are racist) is that neither Claire nor Moira (also jarring because that is not an Italian name in the slightest) are ever really described. Amy gets the most description, in trying to show how much she is trying to force her idea of professionalism on the staff, with Moira the next most-described, but Claire is left with "almond eyes" and "ample breasts", and I had to scrounge for those. Nothing about the characters or the plot really had staying power, unfortunately, but it was an entertaining enough read.

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An interesting story of murder or was it suicide onboard a cruise ship. The story goes back and forth with the POV of both main characters Claire and Moira as they try their best to investigate what really happened.
I thought the beginning was a little slow but if you stick with it you’ll enjoy this who done it.

Thank you #NetGalley #BoldStrokesBooks #DeathOnTheWater fir this arc

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Death on the Water is a quick, entertaining murder mystery with just a touch of romance at the end. The story revolves around Claire, an overly ambitious journalist forced on cruise vacation by her agent, and Moira, assistant cruise director, who find themselves teaming up to investigate the suspicious death of the passenger in the room next to Claire’s.

Twist after twist keeps you guessing as new layers are constantly added to the mystery, with the weather adding to the dramatic atmosphere as the story reaches its peak.

I wish we had another 50-70 pages or so to help flesh out more details on some of the plot points, there were a few scenes that felt rushed or like the author was trying to cram too much information into them. Overall, a good read that introduced me to a new author that I’m excited to check out more from.

Thanks to Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley for the ARC!

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