My Book List Updates: Historical Suspense Novels Are My New Obsession

A historical suspense novel by Erik Larson.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Well I finally finished Erik Larson’s Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. This is the first historical suspense novel I’ve read by him but I know it won’t be my last. I have The Devil in the White City waiting for me somewhere in my stack of books in my office.

I think historical crime/suspense novels are now my new favorite genre.

To be honest, I didn’t know much about the Lusitania. I remember learning a little bit about it in high school. My sophomore year history teacher was a World War history buff so we spent the entire first semester on World War I and second semester on World War II.

We briefly touched on the sinking of the Lusitania and how it ushered the United States into The Great War, but we didn’t go into depth about the particular event, so my knowledge on this topic was a blank canvas.

I struggled a lot with the maritime terminology in this book. I don’t know how many times I had to Google words and descriptions that I’d never heard of. Once I got to the part where the Lusitania and the U-boat encounter each other, that’s when the pace picks up quickly.

The Daily Mirror reports on the sinking of the RMS Lusitania
News headline from the actual sinking.

Erik Larson is a very talented storyteller when it comes to historical events. Now though I not only have a much greater understanding of the event itself, but I also can sympathize with the victims and their loved ones. If anything, the victims’ stories are rarely touched on in history books, but Mr. Larson truly has a gift for bringing them to life one last time.

His acknowledgements and author notes fascinated me at the end. I’m so amazed that he got to travel to all of these locations while he was researching. And I mean not just to where these things took place, but to the various libraries and museums that kept the artifacts left from the wreckage. He even got to read Schweiger’s captain’s log and look at the photos of the unidentified and unclaimed victims of the Lusitania. To be able to touch a piece of history… to me, that would be a dream come true. That’s really the only way to describe it.

So now I’m moving on to my next book. Rather than reading another Larson novel (which I’m itching to do!) I figured I’ll give one of the other books on my “to-read” stack a chance.

This time it’s In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The book is about the brutal murder of a small family of four in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas in 1959. There was no motive and almost no clues. 

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