The Last Farewell

Philip McCutchan, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (308p) ISBN 978-0-312-05458-8
Any similarity between the fictional British liner Laurentia and the real-life Lusitania is probably intentional, as the skilled McCutchan (Halfhyde, Cameron and Convoy series) suspensefully tells of the doomed ship's 1915 New York-England crossing. The Western front stalemate, the looming Dardanelles disaster and the U-boat blockade are wreaking havoc on Britain and France. President Wilson tries to maintain U.S. neutrality while prime minister Asquith angles for an American loan if not belligerency, and Germany announces that all Allied vessels, including civilian ships, are at risk in war zones. Laurentia skipper William Pacey, who knows that his unarmed luxury liner carries war material, is stymied by the Admiralty's refusal to provide war-zone escorts. We know first lord of the Admiralty Churchill and first sea lord Fisher are conspiring to bring the U.S. into the war: ``women and children'' casualties may do the trick. The Grand Hotel cast of Brits, Yanks and other nationals is handled neatly, if not with much depth, by a master storyteller. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
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