The General Slocum disaster is one of the greatest tragedies in American history. On June 15, 1904, hundreds of residents of Kleindeutschland (Little Germany), the Lower East Side’s thriving German community, boarded the excursion steamer to enjoy a day trip outside the city. Most of them would never return home. In a catastrophe that “easily could have been prevented” more than a thousand passengers faced a horrible choice — die by fire or by drowning.
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J.G. Sandom’s novel is narrated by the ghost of one of the victims.
On the day of her first kiss, June 15, 1904, Mallory Meer, 15, dies in the General Slocum steamship disaster. Dustin Brauer, her Jewish boyfriend, had snuck aboard to be with her. Now, he is accused of setting the fire by the son of his fathers employer, a leader in the German neighborhood. As the official coroners inquest occurs, a secondary one takes place in the community with Dustin on trial. Mallory, now insubstantial, sees everything and helps the truth to emerge. While historically no conclusive proof was found of how the fire started, Welsh does a creditable job of imagining how it spread, including disturbing images of those trapped on the burning vessel. He uses Mallorys ghostly presence to bring the coroners inquest, and those from the boat company and the safety inspectors office, to life. Unresolved tells a remarkable story in a remarkable way…Without explaining anti-Semitism or corruption, Welsh shows readers the neighborhoods vibrancy and prejudices and helps them to understand how justice worked in early-20th-century New York. –Lisa Prolman, Greenfield Public Library, MA
Caroline Thompson (author of Edward Scissorhands) said, “Move over, Dan Brown . . . All hail J.G. Sandom . . .
Kirkus said, “Sandom’s strength lies in the verve of his story, with writing that has both muscle . . . (and) brains . . . (THE WAVE) races from improbable to crazywild, all in good fun, with Sandom always one step ahead . . . A story with enough manic energy to be worthy of a nuclear explosion.”
While known mostly as a writer of thrillers and mysteries, Sandom is also the author of several Young Adult (YA) novels, including the award-winning KISS ME, I’M DEAD and CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BODY SNATCHER. The Washington Post said, “(Sandom) writes with a precision and delicacy unusual for YA fiction,” and called KISS ME, I’M DEAD “a subtle gem.”