So, the Titanic, or what’s left of it, is being eaten away by metal-eating bacteria. Of course, many Titanicers, if that is what we should call them, will be upset to know that the shrine of those 1,500 innocent souls who perished beneath the Atlantic 117 years ago is fast disappearing, according to the latest findings of a recent under-water expedition to the wreck.
However, author, Valentine Palmer, believes that there will be some who open a bottle of bubbly in the boardroom at the thought that, before long, no one will be able to explore the wreck and find conclusive proof that the Titanic never sank and probably never hit an iceberg. Palmer has written two books on the subject of the Titanic and the colossal insurance fraud that he, and many like him, believe was perpetrated by the owners of the ship and her ‘twin’, Olympic, designed from the self-same set of plans as her sister. Apparently, the staterooms on the ‘Titanic’ have now collapsed into a pile of dust on the seabed. How convenient for the conspirators and their descendants. The owner’s stateroom aboard the Olympic contained a magnificent fire surround fashioned from a rare Italian marble. The rarity of this stone lay in the fact that the marble had veins running through it and no two pieces were ever alike. How strange then that the marble surround, photographed in the owner’s suite aboard the Olympic, figures prominently in the video taken by explorers of the Titanic’s wreck in recent years. Sounds awfully like the ship that sank was the Olympic and not the Titanic. But why was this? Palmer says that you’ll have to read his 2012 book, commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the sinking (‘Titanic and the strange case of great uncle Bertie’) and, coming right up to date, his new thriller, ‘Sherlock Holmes and the great Titanic mystery’, wherein the world’s most famous detective solves the riddle of the world’s most famous ship. Palmer became something of an authority on the Titanic and her loss through his family connection to the disaster. His great uncle was second officer Lightoller, the only senior officer to survive the sinking.
But why did Palmer write the Titanic tragedy as a Sherlock Holmes novel? ’Quite simply,’ he says, ‘because when I put forward the theory of an insurance ‘swap’ of the two ships in my 2012 book, although I was interviewed on TV, radio and by the press, objections to my suggestion that the sinking of the Olympic, standing in for the Titanic made no sense to most people. However, if you consider that Olympic was damaged beyond proper repair after a collision with a naval cruiser, it makes perfect sense. Get rid of a ship that’s virtually useless, sink it as if it were a brand new one and collect £5 million in insurance money. That’s about £500 million in today’s money! Of course, the ship hit something, possibly an iceberg, but more likely a fishing boat, and failed to reach the appointed rendezvous, where rescue ships were waiting. Hence the colossal loss of life. Although there appears to have been gross inefficiency and unpreparedness by the owners and the crew, which also contributed to the tragedy.’
So, was there a plot? A plot so fiendish and ruthless that it was beyond anyone’s imagining? This latest Sherlock Holmes story has the super sleuth escaping from the doomed liner and setting out to prove what really happened in this most famous of shipwrecks. Hidden within the exciting narrative of Valentine Palmer’s thriller are the clues that proved for him, and may well prove for you, that the Titanic never sank, and the metal-eating bacteria are biting on the wrong ship.