An intriguing blend of fact and fiction, The Titanic Murders takes the reader aboard the R.M.S. Titanic for its doomed maiden voyage across the AtlantAn intriguing blend of fact and fiction, The Titanic Murders takes the reader aboard the R.M.S. Titanic for its doomed maiden voyage across the Atlantic in 1912. Based on information from an anonymous source that there were two deaths aboard the ship before it sank, Collins weaves an imaginative tale of murder and mystery. The story is populated by a colorful cast of real-life passengers on the Titanic that includes millionaires John Jacob Astor, Ben Guggenheim, and Isidor Straus, as well as the colorful Maggie Brown.
Not long into the voyage, a dead body is discovered in a stateroom. The circumstances look suspicious. The chairman of the White Star Line, J. Bruce Ismay, who is aboard for the maiden voyage, is dismayed at the thought that word of the possible crime will get out and tarnish the Titanic's reputation. So he asks passenger Jacques Futrelle, a famous American mystery writer, to employ his knowledge of criminology to investigate the death. Futrelle agrees and enlists his wife May to help, but soon a second body turns up. The Titanic's voyage seems to be cursed by death.
Readers know, of course, that the voyage is indeed doomed and that over 1,500 people will die. This irony makes the story all the more compelling, as Futrelle seeks to uncover the killer and prevent possible additional deaths, even as the clock is ticking for so many of his fellow passengers — and even for Futrelle himself.
The Titanic Murders is very well researched. Collins incorporates many historical details into the story that make both the characters and the ship itself come alive in the reader's imagination. Collins is a good storyteller and a master of the historical fiction genre. I enjoyed the book very much and look forward to reading more of Collins's Disaster Series books and other mysteries....more
I enjoyed this book immensely, and I highly recommend it — especially in this Olympic year that marks the 80th anniversary of the culminating event inI enjoyed this book immensely, and I highly recommend it — especially in this Olympic year that marks the 80th anniversary of the culminating event in the story.
I have a passing familiarity with competitive rowing, but knowledge of rowing is definitely not required to enjoy the book. The book tells the story of the men's eight-oar crew at the University of Washington that worked for three years to represent the United States in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The story is compelling and inspirational, as this group of working-class boys from Seattle overcame one obstacle after another in their pursuit of the pinnacle of rowing success.
Author Daniel James Brown focuses especially on one rower, Joe Rantz, whose personal story epitomizes the almost unbelievable challenges that many Americans faced in the dark years of the Depression. Most of the other boys in the boat faced similar personal challenges. But they all had exceptional drive and talent, both physical and mental, that enabled them to come together to forge a powerhouse racing crew that's been called the best of all time.
The narrative of the rowers' quest for Olympic glory is compelling enough. But Brown enriches the tale with a superb knack for describing the context of the quest: the poverty and hopelessness of the Depression, the contrast between the poor boys from West and the wealthy Eastern rowers, the huge following that rowing had in the press and among the population in the 1930s, the propaganda machine of Hitler's Germany as it scrubbed Berlin clean for the Olympics.
Brown is an excellent storyteller, and The Boys in the Boat is a terrrific book. Once you pick it up, you'll be eager to keep turning the pages, rooting for the Washington boys all the way. ...more