Walk into my home office and you will know I’m a great fan of Charles Pellegrino because I have all his books displayed with a framed photo of both of us, meeting for the first time in NYC. Some of my favorites are his Dust, his Titanic trilogy, The Killing Star and the one closest to my heart: Last Train from Hiroshima. He is a brilliant scientist and writer; I consider Charlie my writing mentor through his writing. I can easily point out his influence on my writing. ( While writing my Kapoho book, I remember saying, “I must do a Charlie here,” and added a paragraph or two.)
This week, his The California Incident Kindle book was released and I finished it in a few hours. The Californian was one of the ships near the Titanic that historical night.
This is a bonus, a great bonus to all the Titanic books by Pellegrino. I still don’t know whether the presentation of the story, in its reader friendly font and spacing added to this feeling that I was reading an illustrated book. How he used all his research to present them in such a freeflowing, easy reading story is fascinating. That’s part of his brilliance, using words to create images like photographs or a running film.
In the book, Walter Lord was asked if he might want to visit the Titanic if he could travel back in time. He said he “ would love to be a fly on the wall aboard the Californian.” Pellegrino does just that, for Lord and his readers, putting us on the wall as a fly. He doesn’t stop there and takes us to all the other ships who were reported to be around the Titanic that night.
This story is a heart-breaking history of men…men who were human in their weakness: their inability to speak up for truth and to have the courage to go beyond authority. All would have saved lives. They were later chained to their own history of grief and shame, as documented by their descendants.
It’s obvious that when Pellegrino does research and writes what he knows, he accomplishes this with the human reader in mind, with all of his/her senses .
This is also a story of the mysteries of that night, of the numerous ships sighted around the Titanic. If there were so many sightings, why didn’t they rush toward the Titanic? Pellegrino takes us through that mysterious fog.
So the Titanic sank in 1912. Yet, interwoven in the telling are people familiar to us: descendant of lawman Bat Materson, Ian Fleming; one of my favorite books “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” A nice touch. Like ships in constant movement on the sea, he moves the reader through different time – lines with dialogues and compelling people accounts.
I have read all of his Titanic books and didn’t dream there would another story to tell. I think I know his secret. He has tons of information, but will use them only as needed. There were a few times I felt, “Oh, this is so good, why didn’t he tell us this in his other books?”
I hope he’s writing another story until his files are all empty.