It feels like the safest place on earth. A family-friendly, floating palace. But, as Anya Crichton soon discovers, cruise ships aren't all that they seem...Statistics tell us that a woman is twice as likely to be sexually assaulted on a cruise ship than on dry land. Customers aren't screened, so the ships are a haven for sex offenders and paedophiles. With no policing, and floating in international waters, sexual assaults and passengers 'disappearing' are uncommonly frequent...So when a teenage girl is discovered, dead on the deck of the ship that she is holidaying on, Anya feels compelled to get involved. There's no apparent cause of death, but Anya's forensics expertise uncovers more than the ship's doctors can...or want to. With the killer still on board, and subsequently a crew-member found shot, it becomes clear that the safe haven of the cruise-ship is actually anything but. And, as Anya comes under increasing pressure to abandon her investigations, will she continue? Or do whatever it takes to keep her own family safe?
Cold Grave is the 6th book by Kathryn Fox featuring forensic physician, Dr Anya Crichton, and after the first few pages I was barely able to tear myself away.
Cleverly plotted with multiple threads that provide intriguing mystery and thrilling action, Cold Grave is a fantastic read. Inspired in part by the death of Australian Dianne Brimble, a mother of three who was drugged, raped and left to die by a group of men during a cruise in 2002, Fox creates a compelling story exploring the seedier side of cruising that happy holiday makers are rarely aware of. In Cold Grave the victim is Lily, a naive teenager and talented musician, whose death seems to be little more than an inconvenience to the crew of the luxury liner. The discovery of bruising on her inner thighs and GBH in her system during the post mortem leads Anya to suspect she was drugged and abused before being left to die in a towel cupboard on deck. A group of aggressive men on board seem to be likely suspects but proving their culpability will be difficult, especially since the crew seem reluctant to cooperate.
As Anya pushes for an investigation into the circumstances of Lily’s death, an anonymous note alerts her to more deadly secrets aboard the ship. Violence, espionage, missing persons, illegal practices and cover-ups put Anya, and her family, at risk with no where to go. Wary of the security agent who shadows her every move Anya is nevertheless determined to do what she does best, speak for the victims.
As always it is Anya’s compassion and desire for justice that drives her to become involved in the crime. While Anya can sometimes seem cold and self righteous she is, I think, more emotionally vulnerable in Cold Grave than in previous books, specifically in terms of her relationship with her ex husband and I appreciated the opportunity to gain more insight into her character. I also enjoyed seeing Martin in another light and liked him far more than I expected.
I have to admit I am no longer as keen to one day cruise upon a luxury liner but Cold Grave is a compelling crime novel with a setting that lends itself well to suspense and intrigue. The Dr Anya Crichton series remains a firm favourite of mine and I am happy to recommend it without reservation.