Published: 23rd March 2017 (Transworld)
England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …
Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.
What has she done?
Dangerous Crossing is such a different book than those that I have been reading recently – which I mean in the best of ways. It was fantastic to escape onto the Orontes, an ocean liner sailing to Australia in 1939.
As soon as you open this book, you know that you are being transported to a different era – the language, both the narrative from the characters and Rachel Rhys prose, is reflective of the 1930’s. I’m not usually one for a lot of descriptive language throughout my reads but it was perfect in this book. I absolutely relished all the descriptions of the ocean liner and the fabulous places that it docked on its journey to Australia as well as the beautiful fashions from this era. I couldn’t get enough and actually read this book slower than I usually would so I could absorb everything that was happening. The writing is exquisite in bringing all this to life alongside fantastic, well developed characters from different walks of life – the perfect escapism whereby I felt like I was aboard the Orontes (I would most definitely be in Tourist class rather than First class!).
Dangerous Crossing opens in early September 1939 in Australia and sets the tone for what is to come as we are made aware that something terrible has happened aboard the Orontes, a young woman is somehow involved and war has broken out following Hilter’s invasion of Poland….but that if all we find out. The time period then shifts back to late July 1939 at Tilbury Docks, Essex as the Orontes is preparing to set sail.
The book focuses on Lily Shephard who is embarking on a 2 year adventure after she sees an advert for a Government funded assisted passage scheme which is trying to encourage young British people to settle in Australia – the opportunity of a lifetime for Lily….but it is also clear that Lily is trying to escape some heartbreak which reveals itself throughout the book. Lily meets an array of characters aboard the Orontes, some nice and some not so pleasant but they all added their own personality to the book.
There is a wonderful pace to this book which is reflective of its setting on the open sea which captivates the reader from the start. This is a slower pace than I am used to with longer chapters but it is wonderful – it was a breath of fresh air to read something completely different to my norm. I am increasing becoming more of a fan of historical fiction and Dangerous Crossing has bumped the genre up a few notches!
Rachel Rhys is the pseudonym of Tammy Cohen and whilst this is a complete departure from her thrillers, the same fantastic writing is present. This novel is a wonderful story but is also fantastically researched as everything felt so authentic.
I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria where my anthropologist father happened to be doing fieldwork at the time. Sabbatical years in far-flung places were a feature of my childhood and I attended school in both Sierra Leone and California. Otherwise, I mostly grew up in the suburbs of London where my adolescence was spent either in the local library or waiting for the last tube home.
After taking an American Studies degree at Manchester University I taught English in Madrid. While working as a secretary back in London, I started writing features and hand-delivering them to the magazine publishing house around the corner. The day the first one got accepted, I packed in my job and declared myself a freelance journalist, which is basically what I remained for the next twenty years, writing features for national magazines and newspapers, such as Marie Claire, The Times and The Telegraph, and then moving on to non fiction books. My dream was always to write fiction but it wasn’t until I was forty-seven that I finally conquered the self doubt and my first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge was published.
These days I live in North London with my partner and three (nearly) grown children and one very badly behaved dog. Together with my family I spent four happy years living in Spain from 2004 to 2008 and I live in fear of people finding this out and asking me something in Spanish at which I remain shamefully inept.
My first novel, The Mistress’s Revenge, was followed by three more contemporary fiction titles under the name Tamar Cohen – The War of the Wives, Someone Else’s Wedding and The Broken.
In November 2014, my first crime novel, Dying For Christmas was published under the name Tammy Cohen, followed by First One Missing a year later, and When She Was Bad in April 2016. My latest, They All Fall Down is published in July 2017.
Writing as Rachel Rhys, Dangerous Crossing, my first foray into historical mystery was published in March 2017.
I am a member of the Killer Women collective of London-based female UK crime writers.