Board Stiff by Robert James (1951)

Tony Alexander wasn’t happy about being stuck on a cruise with his wife Paula, so he’s is looking for anything to entertain him. Chasing after women, getting drunk, and being blatantly rude is merely a start to his amusement. Then he adds in a little blackmail as an added bonus. Unfortunately, one of his shipmates doesn’t see the fun in it, and ends his little game with murder. 

A ship sailing to Nassau filled with hundreds of people, ten of them have a casual shipboard acquaintance, one is murdered and the remaining nine of course fall under suspicion. Yet there is no official investigation, nor any real amateur detecting in the entire book, unless you count the last chapter where two male characters sit down and squabble over the timeline of events and who could and could not be the murderer. The identity of the murderer, which is easy to discern on its own, is revealed in a rush in the last few pages. The characters are, for the majority, a totally unlikable lot consisting of stock characters, none of whom stand out in any way. 

So, there you have it. Board Stiff as a mystery really has nothing in it worth recommending. It’s not a terrible read, but don’t go out of your way to find a copy either. Luckily, I got my copy in a lot being sold by my local library and only put out a few dollars.

NB – Robert James is the pseudonym of Iris Little Heitner, sister of writing team Constance and Gwenyth Little. Her only other book, that I am aware of, was Death Wears Pink Shoes (1952).

My Judgment – 3/5

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza—2014 Bingo—Read one book that involves water

Calendar of Crime – December #5 Original publication month

11 thoughts on “Board Stiff by Robert James (1951)

  1. When I see a review of a book/author I’ve never heard of, there’s an element of “Oooh, this might be interesting…” — so it’s nice to be able to cross this off my mental TBB list. Well, not “cross it off” so much as “not put it on there to begin with”. You’re doing valuable work! Here’s hoping your next read fares better 🙂

    1. Should also say, don’t let this experience put you off the similarly death-punning title The Frightened Stuff by Kelly Roos. If anything, that book is the exact tonic you need right now…

      1. Definitely need to get back to Kelly Roos. If not then I’m going to have to break down and start reading Merrivale before I finish Fell 😳.

  2. I have been looking out for this title for a while due to the Littles connection. So I’m glad like JJ to be able to cross this one off the list. Sounds like I dodged a bullet, and that Iris did not share her sisters’ talents in writing!

      1. Unfortunately, I don’t want to pay twenty-some dollars for a fair or acceptable copy of a book that I may not like, so my verdict may take some time🙄.

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