After reading Liner, you might rethink the idea of booking a luxury cruise for your next holiday.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
None of the passengers seemed even remotely aware that people were dying on the Oceanis. Three people were dead so far, and those were just the ones that David had witnessed. The doctor mentioned seven others. It seemed that no one had a clue as to the actual number. He wondered at what point the captain would declare an onboard emergency?Chris Coppel. Liner (Kindle Locations 3029-3031). Kindle Edition.
Chris Coppel was born and is currently living in California. He used to work for Warner Bros and Universal Studios. Chris was also Director of Operations at the UCLA film school, where he taught advanced screenwriting. He has written many screenplays, following in the steps of his father, Alec Coppel.
He involved himself with the Best Friends Animal Society for many years and enjoyed drumming and playing the guitar.
The author likes to create different places and dimensions in his stories. It varies from gentle fable-like adventures to horror stories with spine-chilling evil. His previous novels are Lucy, Lakebed, Legacy, and the Lodge and Luck.
Liner is his most recent book, published in July 2021.
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Liner – Summary
The narrative plays out on two levels. The novel starts with the prologue in the current day, and the setting is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Communication Centre. Morgan McCarthy is having his turn working on a Sunday, monitoring earthquake activity. He noticed that unit 47 appeared to be faulty and reported it to Operational Control. This storyline carries on from Chapter 23 to Chapter 25 and completes with the epilogue. Sandwiched in-between is the real meat of the story – the last journey of the luxury liner, the Oceanis, in 1962.
NOAA research ship
From chapter 23, we encounter Columbus, the NOAA’s research ship sent to recover and fix the faulty number 47 sensor. But the sensor has disappeared into a vast fissure created by a recent earthquake.
“We’re on top of what looks to be a brand-new fissure. We can’t see the sensor, but the locator shows it at 120 feet right below us. As we’re in neutral five feet above the deck, we have to assume that it’s fallen in,” Colin said.Chris Coppel. Liner (Kindle Locations 6424-6425). Kindle Edition.
Discovery of the Oceanis
As the crew readies themselves to return to shore, they pick up a Morse code signal. It surprises them that an antique telegraph sounder was transmitting it from the ocean’s depths. By using Sad Eyes, their submersible, they discover the long-lost Oceanis at a depth of around 1500 feet.
David is a microbiologist and held a splendid position, working for his father-in-law. But that was before his divorce and big custody battle. He suffered an enormous financial blow when his father-in-law fired him after the divorce became final. And they deny him any access to his children. But even worse, he discovered he couldn’t find another job because his father-in-law bad-mouthed him to every other firm in the industry.
David’s thirty-eight birthday in 1962 wasn’t a good one, and he decided to end it all. After much research, he decides his best option is to drown himself – but he wants to do it in style. Thus, he booked a first-class trip on the luxury liner, the Oceanis, planning to dive off the ship’s stern. That is until he met with Diana Olson on the Oceanis.
Diana sat at the same table of the restaurant as David. She was on the cruise with her parents, Arthur and Myra Olson. Diana is twenty-nine and works as an editor for a women’s fashion magazine in New York. She is an independent woman and not much interested in getting married. Her mother wants to find her a suitable husband, but at the same time, discourages any potential suitors from talking to her. Diana doesn’t mind her mother’s efforts and starts a friendship with David.
David soon discovers that he is not on an ordinary journey when Andrew, the steward for his area, disappears. He tries to find out what happened to him, but two burly mechanics visit him, warning him not to investigate further. But he and Diana find out that even more people are missing, and they can’t let it go.
Soon it is not only the people that are disappearing, but the ships also seem to deteriorate. All metal parts start to rust, and a strange fungus affects the rest of the ship. Can the strange fog they have been travelling in for days be the reason for all this?
“I know this sounds crazy, but it looks like the ship is ageing. That corrosion that we’re seeing is exactly what would happen to a submerged ship but it should take years, even decades. This is happening in minutes.”Chris Coppel. Liner (Kindle Locations 5864-5865). Kindle Edition.
What did I like?
Dreams and hallucinations
What started as an ordinary cruise turned out to be an extraordinary journey. The author uses David’s dreams to convey the ship’s deterioration, together with his hallucinations of seeing parts of the ship changing into something else. Although in the beginning, he isn’t sure if it is not part of a dream.
The pristine tiled walls, the white enamelled bathroom suite and the luxuriously fluffy towels were gone, as were the lights. The bathroom looked like a mouldy cave. The walls were covered in a thick greyish-green ooze. Barnacles and ocean vegetation were everywhere.Chris Coppel. Liner (Kindle Locations 3359-3361). Kindle Edition.
The author’s use of many strange, seemingly unrelated events keeps you reading, and together with David and Diana, you are trying to figure out what is happening. But the strange fog, no means of communicating with the shore, and the slow decay of the ship, leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind that the Oceanis, and everyone on board, is in danger.
They lost the Oceanis to the sea in 1962, with 2722 souls and no idea of what happened to it. In Liner, the author uses his imagination to add a fantasy element to the novel, to create a surreal description of what caused the Oceanis’ demise.
I love the author’s descriptive language to convey David’s hallucinations and the eventual deterioration of this once-stately ship.
The stern railing and the last five feet of the decking had already been decimated. Teak planks, freshly blackened by the rot, jutted into the air as they splintered under the pressure of the metal sub-decking, contorting as it was being eaten away.Chris Coppel. Liner (Kindle Locations 5852-5854). Kindle Edition.
A bit of romance
I have also enjoyed the playful relationship between David and Diana, which helps to lighten the sombre mood in the narrative from time to time.
And not so much?
I didn’t particularly appreciate how things ended for David and Diana, even though no alternative ending would fit the storyline.
Should you read Liner?
David’s journey on the Oceanis starts quite ordinary, with no signs to the reader that it will turn out so strange. The author uses seemingly unrelated events to keep the reader guessing, and it is only near the end that we start to suspect what is happening to the ship and the people on board.
In Liner, the author creates a surreal environment and uses many fantasy elements. Did the author stir your imagination so that the demise of the Oceanis seems plausible on a fantasy level? We would love to hear from you. Please share with us in the comments?
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1 July 2021
Text-to-Speech | Screen Reader | Enhanced Typesetting | Word Wise
Categories: Short Stories | Mysteries
Trigger Warnings: Violence | Death | Profanity
Hi! I am Susan
Welcome to my adventure
Why Read or Rot?
I have started reading at the age of four. I can remember how often I used to read under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to sleep.
During my early school years, we used to visit the library once a week. I couldn’t pick out my new book fast enough! By the end of the period, I would have finished it already, leaving me with nothing to read for the rest of the week!
Growing up, Fridays was the highlight of my week. Dad would pack the whole family into the car and off we go! You guessed right……to the library! We were a family of readers.
In my adult years, I’ve developed a variety of interests like technology, photography, gardening and even writing. But reading was and will always be a part of my life!
Reading for me is like breathing. If I cannot read, my soul will quietly rot away….