A Superior Maritime Thriller
Diving into an intriguing plot with complex characters and urgent human stakes, this maritime World War II thriller from Miller immediately captivates.
Tenacious Captain Rogers, an American smuggler and the leader of a well-rounded and engaging cast, reveals a strong moral compass early on despite inhabiting a world of gray—and the official American position of neutrality.
As the war rages around him, Rogers, shaken by the atrocities he’s witnessed, risks it all by electing to transport the most contraband of cargo, a Jewish family desperate to escape Nazi-occupied Amsterdam and reach Palestine.
Rogers and the crew of tramp steamer Peggy C face relentless danger on the North Atlantic, starting with mines and German U-boats, enough to test even the quick problem-solving of his likable crew. Amid the tension and immersive historical detail, a surprising romance flourishes, only making the risks more frightening.
The mechanics of the ship, art of navigation, and nuances of naval warfare, all clearly and convincingly described, will fascinate even landlubbers. Just as artfully spun is the wisdom offered by a rabbi Rogers is smuggling, his teachings and advice illuminating not only to his family but to Rogers and the crew as well. The dynamic between the rabbi and Rogers culminates in an intriguing, oddly sophisticated balance.
Meanwhile, a U-boat captained by the notorious Viktor Brauer—so fearsome that Rogers at first insists he’s an invention of British propaganda—is in pursuit, with Miller doing memorable work, in point-of-view chapters, depicting this antagonist and a crew suffering from the restless “tin can disease” caused by extended confinement.
Miller deftly introduces the mates on the Peggy C, sharing intriguing facts about their backgrounds and painting a clear picture of each man’s appearance and demeanor, with each character’s purpose evolving over the course of the tale. The overlapping lives, not only physically close, and their daring mission elevate this winning high seas adventure.
Takeaway: This superior maritime thriller finds an American captain smuggling Jewish refugees as Nazi prowl.
Great for fans of: Nicholas Monsarrat’s The Cruel Sea, Alistair MacLean’s HMS Ulysses.