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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.


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 6 February 1999
The anonymous caller clearly states that he has recently been inside the Titanic. However, it was the man's insistence that he saw two murdered corpses inside the deep freezer of the ship that had to happen before the Titanic grazed that fatal iceberg. Though doubting the account, Max, the author of historical mysteries, starts thinking about the possibilities. Especially intriguing is that the great mystery writer, Jacques "The Thinking Machine" Futrelle was a passenger. Max follows up his pondering by talking with Virginia Futrelle Raymond, the ninety-three years old daughter of Jacques.
Virginia corroborates the phone call by saying her mother, a survivor of the tragedy, swore two murders occurred and that her father, though originally only a passenger, was investigating them. Virginia's story fits comfortably with what historians agree as the facts. So begins the tale of two murders on board the Titanic before destiny ended its run.
Talk about Titanic nerve and guts. Only a historical mystery writer with the talent of Max Allan Collins would dare write a who-done-it, starring real persona (except perhaps Cameron and that couple) and events from the real Titanic. THE TITANIC MURDERS brilliantly works. The story line unfolds into a wonderful mystery being investigated by Mr. Futrelle, a superstar mystery writer of the period, who was one of many to die during the tragedy. The characters seem so genuine, especially their awe over the elegant surroundings. Historical detail makes this novel a winner as it's the research that makes the period come alive. The author of the renowned Heller series and the Ms. Tree comic book, Mr. Collins may have written his best novel to date.

Harriet Klausner
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on 12 July 1999
I really don't have any qualms with the execution of this story. The concept of having mystery writer Jacques Futrelle solve a murder aboard the Titanic before he himself met with death before the ship sank is a good one, and I have to also commend Collins for getting the atmosphere of the Titanic down to a T.
However, I have to confess I was deeply distressed to discover that the two villains of this piece, John Crafton and Hugh Rood, were not made up names used for the occasion but were in fact the names of very real people who were lost aboard the Titanic, and whose identities were appropriated by Mr. Collins solely because he could find nothing about them. This is something that I find distasteful. The fact that not much is known about Mr. Rood or Mr. Crafton is not a valid reason for turning them into the figures of convenience for Mr. Collins's story, and I think he would not have dampened the authentic feel of the story by simply using made up names for the occasion. I find it incredible that Mr. Collins did not bother to contact anyone connected with the Titanic Historical Society or Titanic International, where the scholars there know practically everything about every passenger who sailed aboard the ship. Indeed, the book "Titanic: The Exhibition" does mention that Mr. Crafton came from Roachdale, IN while Mr. Rood was from Seattle. No doubt, there were people who grieved for them as surely as there were people who grieved for the more famous people like the hero, Jacques Futrelle. Mr. Collins may take comfort that he bothered to not dig deep enough about these two men to find out if he were offending anyone, but I find his claim of respect for Titanic's victims to be very hollow when he's not willing to give them the same respect. And that is why I cannot ultimately endorse the book even though it is a brilliant piece of mystery writing.
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on 24 May 2004
the idea behind this book is a brilliant one. the real life mystery writer jacques futrelle was on board titanic when she sank. the author posits the idea that m futrelle solved a murder on board before the ship sank. there's a real flavour of titanic here, and the mystery was a good one - it should appeal to those who like agatha christie - but the reason i gave it four stars is that i'm not comfortable with the author using real people as characters. i don't mind a bit of local colour with some of the famous people on board, seeing them at dinner etc, but when it comes down to rewriting their whole lives for those few days, then i don't like it. but other than that, this book is a good read.
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on 20 March 1999
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on 1 February 2015
A boring book right from the beginning to the very end. It was painful having to read about every attire the characters wore on every single occasion. The descriptions of every cabin or room on that ship was so unnecessary & just made the book so boring to get through. The use of such old fashioned words, I have had to use the dictionary to look up so many of them. No I would not recommend this book to a friend.
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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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