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on 27 January 2013
Good story! I like alternate history a lot and although the outcome for the doomed ship was the same of course, the fictional account of the murders aboard the ship was very well done.

The descriptions of the Titanic were very well done and the characters were well told too. My only real complaint with the writing (and this is nitpicky) was the overuse of alliteration. Alliteration certainly has it's place, but for me, it's more in kid's books and poetry. Often it took me out of the story a little. Again, nitpicky, but it was hard to find to much fault with anything else.

Glad that it's a series, as I'll definitely check out more, especially with todays kindle deal!
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on 3 March 2013
This is quite fun: by taking the great disaster as a backdrop to a murder mystery, the author makes himself three great gifts:

1. The opportunity to ladle on titanic levels of dramatic irony;
2. The opportunity for fun with real-life characters (Jack Futrelle as detective);
3. The opportunity to explore the implications for morality of an enclosed world where there will be no tomorrow (at least from the moment that the realisation that the ship is sinking sinks in).

The first two of these Collins exploits with gusto, the third less so; he has done his research: he recreates with loving attention to detail the appearance and atmosphere on board the sinkable unsinkable liner; he knows who was there; he knows what was on the menu, what music was played, etc. etc.

Using the (wholly factual) fictional mystery writer Jack Futrelle (inventor of that other Sherlock Holmes, Prof S.F.X. Van Dusen, aka The Thinking Machine) as the character through whom this other (fictional) blackmail mystery is told is an inspired idea.

But...

Since we know that, before very long, the ship will sink, (nearly) all will be lost and justice will go undone, it does become very difficult to care, at least about the whodunnit.

I suppose, though, just as the prologue of a Shakespearean play gives the ending away before the action has even begun, our pleasure must here, too, come from the way in which the story is told, rather than any sense of surprise in how it ends.

And the way in which this story is told is ... fun.

Just don't expect great depths - except for the obvious ones.
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Max Allan Collins is a prolific author, whose best known series is that of Nathan HellerTrue Detective (Nathan Heller Novels), in which true crimes are interweaved in a fictional mystery. In this Disaster Series, the author also uses real life events and creates a mystery story based around them. The first in this series uses the iconic ship Titanic, with real life detective writer Jacques Futrelle The Collected Mysteries of Jacques Futrelle (Halcyon Classics) as his hero. Jacques (Jack) Futrelle was a passenger on Titanic and we begin the novel with Jack and his wife surprised at being given a first class cabin, rather than the second class one he has booked. While Futrelle wonders about his sudden promotion to first class, he is also intrigued by another passenger - John Bertram Crafton - who seems to be upsetting people before even setting foot on board ship. When there is a murder, Futrelle is asked to investigate and what follows is a charming view of Titanic on her maiden voyage. Anybody who was anybody was on board and Collins uses the incredible passenger list and opulence of the ship to great effect.

There are more books in this series: The Hindenburg Murders (Disaster Series),The Pearl Harbor Murders (Disaster Series),The Lusitania Murders (Disaster Series),The London Blitz Murders (Disaster Series) and The War of the Worlds Murder (Disaster Series). Obviously, they are all stand alone novels, but I think they are a wonderful idea and I am glad they are now on kindle.
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VINE VOICEon 15 April 2013
This was an interesting murder mystery set on the doomed liner, in that all the characters and suspects are real historical figures, many of them the famous names like Astor, Guggenheim, Strauss and Margaret (Molly) Brown. The central character is the mystery novelist Jacques Futrelle, who created a fictional detective who solved crimes using logic and deduction a la Sherlock Holmes. Here he tries to get to the bottom of the murder of two passengers (real names on the list of dead, but about whom nothing is known), who have apparently been blackmailing some of the wealthy and well known First Class passengers, as well as others in Second Class and among the servants of these passengers. The blackmailers identify some weaknesses in each of their victims, based on historically known facts. The author thereby concocts an interesting mystery based on entirely real historical figures and incidents, within the framework of a supposed story told to the author by Futrelle's real daughter, Virginia. It also provides a possible explanation as to why the ship was travelling so fast and why the boat drill on the final day was cancelled. Futrelle solves the mystery and is in a positive frame of mind after a good dinner on Sunday night "when something jarred him awake - an unexpected jostle that was the first sign since he'd boarded that he was on a ship, not in a hotel". The main narrative of the story then ends, with an epilogue explaining the real fates of the characters. A good, well constructed novel.
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on 3 August 2013
I really enjoyed this book. It takes a totally different look at the Titanic, and gives a lot of description of how the Titanic looked, and it's opulence. It made a lovely change from blood and gore, computers and bad language. It's a tale of innocent times, of love and deception and, of course, includes the eternally intriguing story of The Titanic. It also looks at it from a different angle, of a crime writer on board the Titanic trying to find a murderer. It works very well. I was a bit worried that we might have to go down the tear-jerking bit when couples are separated as the ship goes down, but the author writes around this very skilfully, ending the story without the need for tissues! Well done Max Allan Collins, a credible story, and a darned good read.
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on 28 July 2013
This is a rather slight detective story, more interesting for its setting and main character than the mystery itself. The detective is the author Jacques futrelle, an american in spite of his name, who wrote stories about the american Sherlock Holmes, the "thinking machine" in the years before the first world war. In this novel futrelle, and who died in the Titanic disaster. The cast is populated with people who were present on the ill-fated voyage, and the atmosphere of the time seems nicely conveyed.
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on 26 July 2013
This book was a great read if as enthralled with this subject as I have been throughout my life. The murder twist together with data of this voyage made a really interesting read.
The information of sources at the back of the book is a great addition for further reference points. I am looking forward to gathering more information from this section.
I recommend this book as an easy, interesting read. I have already purchased some of the books mentioned throughout the book.
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on 1 September 2013
This is a very well written book based partly on fact but with an interesting mix of fiction. The characters are well drawn and, both real and imaginary, are very convincing. The plot is fast moving and full of excitement. The story ends just short of the sinking of The Titanic, and knowing what is going to happen adds to the tension. There are wonderful descriptions of the ship that make the reader feel actually aboard this luxury, but ill-fated, liner. I thoroughly recommend this book - it is a very good read.
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on 9 January 2014
Really enjoyed this style which mixes fact and fiction and provides a different slant to a well known event. Even though the outcome obviously can't change I really wanted to know what happened to all the characters and the ending still brought a tear to my eye. A great read , will look out for more of his work.
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on 19 February 2013
A lively, ingenious blend of well-researched fact and cleverly crafted fiction make this detective novel a worthy read. An exhaustive appendix of reference materials, and a hero based on a real life author of detective fiction has also given me several further books, (and similar), to further peruse.
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