by MacDonald Harris.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1961.
From the Jacket:
It was in Marseilles that Mr. Alfred Benturian conceived his great idea.
In a career devoted to fantasies, it was his most improbable and most lucrative one:
a cruise on a royhal yacht, with a list of passengers
culled from the pages of the Almanach de Gotha. It was true that the
Melpone had grown a little rusty since her erstwhile owner, the
Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, had died in
1916. But the plumbing fixtures were still solid silver, and a
little paint can do wonders. The obstacles were insignificant, the
potential profits dazzling. Who could have foreseen that the
trusted Ampersand nursed ambitions to become a Napoleon of
crime? Or that piracy and shipwreck lurked under the smooth
waters of the Mediterranean.
The improbable fantasy became fact. The yacht steamed out of port in an atmosphere
of spurious elan, its bottom patched with good intentions. The
passengers, distinguished more for coronets than kind hearts, included one bit
of deposed (and decayed) royalty, an eccentric British peer who
dabbled in the occult, a highly questionable Rumanian prince--and Marth, Stanford co-ed turned
countess, who shared Mr. Benturian's penchant for haute cuisine.
This account of the last, glorious days of the Melpomene, who sank
with both a bang and a whimper, is told with gaiety and wit.
Private Demons is the skillful first novel of MacDonald Harris, whose
short stories have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire,
Harper's Bazaar, and The Saturday Evening Post.
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