On May 7, 1915, the Lusitania, Cunard's most luxurious
vessel, winner of the international prize for the fastest ship
of its kind, was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the
Celtic Sea, Ireland.
The ship sank in 18 minutes with a loss of 1,201
lives, of which 128 were Americans. Among these were Alfred
Vanderbilt, one of the richest men in America, and Charles Frohman,
the impresario who brought the play Peter Pan to the New York
Boston was well represented on the casualty list,
including Leslie Lindsey, age 28. Her father William was known in
Boston as the self-made millionaire who became a writer. Leslie and
her husband, sailing to England on their honeymoon, both drowned.
When a trawler found her body, she still wore a necklace, her
parents’ wedding gift.
William Lindsey and his wife Anne used the jewels as
the down payment for a chapel in Leslie’s honor. Weddings are
performed today in the Leslie Lindsey Memorial Chapel at 15 Newbury
The Lusitania was carrying contraband, bullets and
shells, so the ship was targeted regardless of the civilians. The
German Embassy warned travelers not to sail -- largely ignored.
How did German intelligence learn about the
contraband? Spies. That much we know, along with the heroics of
Vanderbilt and Frohman as the vessel sank.
spies were, in the novel two young men from the German army and a
young woman from the Ukraine, and what happened to them and the
people with whom their lives intersected, that is what Debris, a
95,000 word work of fiction, attempts to find out.
Click on this
link for the first chapter.
The 100th anniversary of the disaster – and the
publication date of the novel – was May 7, 2015.
Sasha Denisov, a Ukrainian immigrant and Chechen war
veteran, drives a Boston cab. He dreams of buying his own taxi
medallion and remarrying Ani, a Russian immigrant, whom he first
married to get a green card -- and then fell in love with. She has
other dreams, however, which she believes her work for an escort
service will make come true.
When Sasha tries to purchase his medallion, he comes
into conflict with a Colombian taxi owner, who has interests in
drugs and prostitution. In the violence that ensues, Sasha is
forced to fall back on survival skills he learned in the brutality
of the Chechen war and thought he would never need again.
The Medallion is
an 70,000 word suspense novel set in contemporary Boston. If the
novel has literary godfathers, they would be Robert Parker, Dennis Lehane and Martin Cruz Smith; the first two for compelling action
around Boston, with its interesting history and ethnic diversity, a
melting pot still coming to a boil; and the third writer for
resilient characters in a failed society (the Soviet Union and the
In the tradition of Parker and Lehane, the novel
careens through the streets and little known neighborhoods of
Boston, following Sasha's attempt to woo his love and ensure his own
survival, even as his freedom is threatened by Ben Schwartz,
a Boston homicide detective nearing retirement. Haunted by a
decade-old murder of a medical school professor in her prime,
Schwartz and his partner Di Natale get an unexpected break in that
case while pursuing Sasha and push both investigations forward.
In the novel, the transplanted Russians, Israelis,
Somalis, Colombians, Haitians, among others and some illicitly, are
pursuing the American Dream. Readers, I believe, will find a
connection with their striving.