This is the amazing true story of the life of Henry Kendall, who was born in 1874 and died aged 91 in the closing months of 1965. Most of the book covers the first 44 years of his life, based on contemporary reports and Kendall's own personal notes and family records. The author has done a tremendous amount of research which has really brought the subject to life. Once I started reading I couldn't put the book down.
After a young life packed with adventure, sailing the world, with several close shaves (including witnessing a murder and then being targeted by the murderer himself), at the age of 32 Henry Kendall was Captain of one of the largest Atlantic liners.
He became world famous in 1910 after spotting the escaping Dr Crippen and his young female accomplice onboard his ship, disguised as father and son. He sent a wireless message (the first to be used to apprehend a criminal) to London, where Inspector Walter Dew picked it up and raced to Canada on a faster ship, to meet and arrest Crippen before the ship had docked.
Four years later, Kendall was in command of the RMS Empress of Ireland when she was sunk by a Norwegian coal freighter. The ship went down in 14 minutes and over a thousand lives were lost. Kendall was meant to go down with his ship but was plucked to safety and instead faced the stress of a Board of Inquiry. Ultimately exonerated, he began to work the Atlantic convoys during WW1, with further dangerous escapades including a voyage where his ship was torpedoed not once but twice.
Henry Kendall made his last voyage in 1918 aged just 44, and settled in London where he ran the activities of Canadian Pacific for many years, retiring aged 65 in January 1939. The final chapter of the book is concerned with his life after retirement, detailing his descendants' lives.
If you like a book packed with real-life adventure, I thoroughly recommend this book.
Every now and then we come across a book which so captures our imagination that we seem unable to put it down, using every spare moment to read a few pages and putting off more 'important' tasks to make time to get stuck in. Immediately we turn the final page we search our shelves for another just like it. Invariably, we are disappointed. For me, this is one such book.
The author has performed a great effort of research and paints a vivid and absorbing picture of not only Henry Kendall but the world in which he moved. I learned much about the story of my own country (Australia, by the way), which was unexpected and gave me much pleasure.
Negatively, there are quite a number of typos and a few cumbersome sentences and other technical issues with the text, but these are problems only for the technically minded and in no way detract from the strength of a narrative which is told with warmth, humour and empathy.
I discovered this book about the real Inspector Walter Dew after reading Peter Lovesey's novel, "The False Inspector Dew," a humorous, delightful bit of fiction. Both books are about Dr. Crippen, the dentist who almost got away with killing his wife. This one gets 5 stars, and so does Lovesey's novel.
Fantastic read, hadn't really know what to expect prior to reading it, but it weaved a fantastic tale which highlights some real moments in history that I was never aware of (as being too young!) But it should really be made into a movie or something, too good to be ignored.