Title: Dangerous Crossing
Author: Rachel Rhys
Genre: WWII, Historical Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I have been thinking about what to write about Rachel Rhys' Dangerous Crossing for almost a week. This is a difficult book to really rate and write about as it's a bit confused about what it is; and yet I enjoyed the majority of what I read. So it's not that the book is bad but it's not a 4 or 5 star read either.
My largest complaint is that the plot isn't really a plot. Our lead gal gets on a cruise ship headed from England to Australia in 1939. Of course the world is just entering into WWII and things are starting to fall apart in Europe. It's interesting to think about a boat with all different nationalities, including some Jews already fleeing the Nazis, just before England declares all out war. This is explored in a very intriguing way as we being to realize that there are 'enemies' on board if war is declared and that some on the boat are definitely in line with Hitler and his regime policy of pushing the Jews.
While there are mysterious and odd things happening on the cruise ship, some first class folks who 'slum' with tourist class, and every character is beautifully written and developed (back stories and all), I still never really felt like there was a plot. Unless plot can be a cruise ship going from one location to the next while the world is in turmoil?
My plot issues only compound once I get to the last few chapters and realize that what I thought was going on is not at all what was happening. It's not that the ending is coincidental or unrealistic; it's more that it came a little out of nowhere for me. Interestingly the events on the cruise are derived from true stories on that same cruise ship over a few years during WWII. So while Rhys has moved a few timelines for minor events on the ship and changed many of our main characters; everything she writes is based on fact (as explained at the end of the book).
This is a decent piece of historical fiction that gives insight into what it would have been like to be just on the outskirts of WWII. To be waiting for any country to declare war; hopeful that it might be avoided. I think Rhys creates the kind of awkward suspense that is appropriate for all our characters. And she certainly creates a few well written villains to help tell the story to remind us all that while most were against the Nazi's policies; not everyone was.
There are some really disturbing (at least to me) moments in Dangerous Crossing where I realized that the tension in our world today, that US President Donald Trump has created, could easily be the opening steps to a larger conflict; just like what is inevitable in 1939. Between controversial conversations that divide people who would otherwise have a potential to be friends and average people showing their 'true colors' as villians; any one of the people on the ship could be someone today. Additionally, some people saying that the stories of persecution against the Jews in German couldn't possibly be true. Yet we all have the knowledge that nothing was exaggerated by anyone. It really was that horrific and dangerous to be a Jew in 1939. So, if you replace Jew with Muslim, Hitler with Trump and German with United States you could almost be reading a story of today.
Whether Rhys did this on purpose, or it's just a case of history repeating itself, I'm not sure. What I do know is that Dangerous Crossing is a good reminder to us that you can get caught up in politics and choose sides that will eventually turn into murder and war.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.