Old man at sea

William Doonan’s first novel, Grave Passage, an offbeat romp of a murder mystery, provides a terrific bit of escapism. Doonan, an honorable mention in SN&R’s last Flash Fiction Contest, has a unique voice that combines cozy and travelogue, all told from the perspective of an absent-minded old man (think Peter Falk’s Detective Columbo solving cases in retirement). Hero Henry Grave is helicoptered onto a cruise ship in mid-trip after one of the “entertainers”—a former FBI agent—is found strangled. With his checkered history and bumbling approach, Grave is an unlikely hero who nevertheless has the confidence of the owner of the cruise line. He needs to discreetly solve the case and help protect the ship’s reputation as a safe place to vacation. But his time is limited and suspects are not; plus, here are all sorts of distractions. Expect to chuckle as Grave rambles through his case.