Mystery-thriller Majestic Descending rolls along smoothly but accelerates to a higher gear only infrequently. However, the characterization is quite good, and the reader is taken to a variety of places,
including the Italian countryside and New York.
Katharine Adams, K.J. to her friends, is a successful Atlanta lawyer who has planned a relaxing holiday aboard the luxury ship
Ocean Majestic together with her best friend, Beth Doliver. After a
harrowing last-minute court appearance, they are finally on their way, and Katharine even meets a decent man. Unfortunately, genetic scientist Ellis Stephens is aboard the same ship. He has just made a significant breakthrough
that could mean billions of dollars to the first company to get it. Unscrupulous people are after him, and they do not care what they have to do to get his invention. Even the thousands of innocent people onboard the
Majestic are only a small obstacle.
Katharine sees Ellis arguing with a man who she helped convict for bombings years ago. Then terrorists
detonate bombs, and the great ship starts to sink. Amid the panic and horror, Katharine finds Ellis's murdered body. Even if she
can manage to survive aboard the sinking ship, there are people who will want her dead.
Katharine is a strong point-of-view character. As is seen in the first few pages, her determination springs from earlier experiences
at the hands of a sadist who kidnapped, tortured, and murdered a group of young women. Katharine was the only one to escape, and she still feels guilty for not being able to help any of the other girls. She also still has nightmares and panic attacks. She has gone through a divorce and has three grown-up children with whom she has good relationships. However, trust does not come easily to her, and that has made her other relationships difficult at best. Onboard the
Majestic, she meets John Delany, a law professor and a former New York
City homicide detective. Delaney, the other POV character, is also divorced with
grown children. He wants to take charge of the situation and prove himself to be trustworthy.
There are also small glimpses of the people who have been hired to sink the
Majestic and, later, to harass Katharine. One of them is a mercenary, another a religious fanatic. There are definite parallels to real-life terrorists in
Ultimately, the story rolls forward smoothly, and it is a quick, satisfying read.