Man Overboard tells the inside story of one of America's most notorious murder cases in decades, providing unprecedented insight into the death of Greenwich native George Allen Smith IV on his honeymoon. He married Jennifer Hagel in June 2005. Both of them were young and beautiful. He came from an old-line Greenwich family; she, from blue-collar Cromwell and with a reputation for being a flirt. Just eight days after their wedding, their new life together disintegrated on their Royal Caribbean honeymoon cruise. The morning after several booze-fueled melees, a gruesome blood stain traced the awning below their cabin, and George had vanished.
After four years of bitter legal wrangling with both families, Royal Caribbean recently handed over its files to the FBI, which announced that Smith's murder is “very active and open.” Man Overboard provides an extraordinary look into a case that has captured the public imagination and raised provocative questions about the unregulated cruise industry, leading directly to the historic Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act signed by President Obama.
Joan Lownds, an award-winning reporter for the Greenwich Post and other Connecticut newspapers and magazines, has covered the honeymoon cruise murder since it broke.
“Joan Lownds is a first rate journalist who led the way, exposing the truth about vacations turned tragedies—helping to galvanize action to end the murky legal jurisdictions that stood in the way of crimes being solved and lives being saved. Man Overboard is a compelling story of crime, tragedy, and ultimately justice.”
—John Kerry, U.S. senator for Massachusetts
“Compelling . . . Lownds's vivid storytelling gives the reader a deck-side view of the controversy surrounding the tragic death of George Smith and his family's advocacy in his honor. Their work and Joan's fierce commitment to finding and sharing the truth about Mr. Smith's death helped shepherd into law new protections that will take the biggest steps yet toward ensuring no family ever again has to suffer through this type of tragic crime.”
—Jim Himes, U.S. representative for Connecticut
“Man Overboard tells the tragic and fascinating story of the ‘missing honeymooner' case. . . . This is a compelling tale of the courage of a persistent handful of American citizens who fought a huge and powerful industry and ultimately persuaded a reluctant government to hear their heart-wrenching grievances and take action.”
—Christopher Shays, former U.S. representative for Connecticut
“Lownds's brave coverage has been a driving force for public awareness of the need for congressional reform of the under-regulated cruise industry. No other author has so successfully described the human element of each cruise ship incident and provided a voice for cruise crime victims. Her compassion for each victim is palpable in her writing while at the same time she has provided balanced, comprehensive, and fair reporting of the industry as a whole.”
—Bree Smith, George Smith IV's sister
“Lownds is the real thing. She's got a storyteller's drive and a reporter's eye for just the right detail, and you'll be pulled in and rolling from the first page on.”
—Ross Klavan, Independent Spirit Award–nominated author of Tigerland
“Lownds has been at the forefront of the story about the cruise lines. Her dauntless reporting has helped expose this industry. She has become one of the experts.”
—Kendall Carver, president and chairman of International Cruise Victims
The inside story of a crime that shook the cruise industry to the core