S.O.S. Lusitania

Written by Kevin Kiely
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

1915. Thirteen-year-old Finbar Kennedy suffers from prophetic nightmares. His latest is of an explosion on a big ship, and he’s frightened for his father who works on board the passenger liner, Lusitania, going from Liverpool to New York via Finbar’s hometown of Queenstown in Ireland. His dad is on one of his flying visits home, bringing presents from abroad and lots of fun and laughter (he loves a drink and seeing his mates in the pub). All too soon, his 36-hour leave is over and he must get back to his ship. Mum must return to her baking, looking after her four children and trying to keep the family afloat. Finbar longs to help; he can see how harassed she is. Dad’s money never quite pays what they owe.

He decides to stowaway on the Lusitania. He’s hired by one of the passengers, a German baroness, to take her luggage on board. But, whilst hiding in her cabin, he overhears a conversation between the baroness and a Mr Crowley about a secret German code book and, worse still, Mr Crowley sees him.…

The sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-boat in 1915 with huge loss of life has never been satisfactorily explained. She could sail three times faster than a U-boat and UK Navy destroyers were supposed to guard her. So why were they not there? And why was the Lusitania, apparently, ordered to slow down?

Kevin Kiely captures the mounting tension and panic as the torpedoes strike. Half the lifeboats are trapped under one side of the listing ship, and it’s women and children first. How can Finbar and his dad possibly escape a watery death? S.O.S. Lusitania is an exciting story based on a real event which is sure to appeal to boys of 10 plus.