These readers were given a free Advance Readers Copy of
The Hunt for the Peggy C in exchange for an honest review.
“THE HUNT FOR THE PEGGY C is an extraordinarily good read. In fact, it’s not just the best book I’ve read in two to three years, but reminiscent of THE NIGHTINGALE. The story is intriguing and clever. The author's in-depth research is much in evidence, with many facts, scattered throughout, which are interesting and lend authenticity. This is an outstanding work by Mr. Miller and I anxiously await a sequel.”
—N. Thomas Rice, Reviewing on Booksirens.com
“Fantastic, well-written book. As you read, you feel closer and closer to every character. As a historian, I can tell you that the historical accuracy and research that went into the novel was superb. You can't put this book down; each page and chapter keeps you wondering what will happen next.”
—Michael Savoia, Reviewing on Booksirens.com
“Very engaging story. Just couldn’t put it down! The wartime drama pits devious Nazi U Boat Oberleutnant Brauer against the Peggy C’s Captain Jake Rogers, a cunning smuggler carving out a living transporting legal as well as contraband cargo just ahead of the US declaration to join WWII. Brauer, defying orders to not engage with boats flying the flag of neutral countries, seizes cargo from any ships found, and takes no prisoners. Filled with maritime lingo and true-to-history landmarks, this drama captivates the reader’s attention from the first page to the last.”
—N.L.B. Miller III, Reviewing on Booksirens.com
Miller spins an enjoyable sea yarn here, a good twist on conventional World War II tales. A tramp steam captain takes on a dangerous load to ferry across U-Boat-infested waters: a refugee Jewish family.
The U-Boat captain becomes obsessed with catching the tramp. He lies to his superiors and endangers his men as he tracks his prey from the English Channel to Gibraltar and beyond.
Our cargo captain, Jake Rogers, is American - still neutral in fall 1941 - and running from something. He’s a big-fisted intrepid sailor who can run a motley crew of oddballs and roughnecks, but also has a soft spot for books, hinting at a genteel background. His crew gets restive over the new passengers and the risks they’re asked to run on their behalf.
It’s a good nautical procedural, on the tramp steamer side but particularly on the harrowing life aboard a cramped U-Boat. Its crew chronically lack fresh water, fresh air and dry clothes as they face death that can be sudden as a depth charge.
Romance buds between Rogers and the Dutch family’s oldest daughter, Miriam - who reads a lot of the same books he does. Rogers learns about Jewish life early in occupied Netherlands, the Dutch Jewish community’s Sephardic roots and international ties, leading Zionist Chaim Weizmann, and the illegal Aliyah Bet movement smuggling desperate Jews into Palestine. Religious matters are illuminated by Miriam’s uncle, a rabbi and an endless fount of stories.
Miller handles all this, in my opinion, very well, getting into nuance like conflicts among Jews over how to much resist or cooperate with the Nazis, and the culpability of Dutch Gentiles who enthusiastically collaborate in persecuting the Jews. You get a real sense of the desperation of these people trying to escape, who find so many doors closed to them now.
And I think he also handles the U-Boat side very well. The submariners are less Nazified than other parts of the military, but their captain, Brauer, has a reputation for viciousness and the authority to go way out of bounds pursuing the Peggy C.
-- Dan M. Berger on BookSirens
Unfathomable intelligence on every page of this book! This is a brilliant work by a skilled author/ craftsman who honors his readers with impeccable writing. The story is imaginative, alive, and exciting! I felt that I was really there seeing and hearing the characters and scenes in the book, movie like realism. What a masterpiece, truly a masterpiece of writing about adventure, love, hope, despair, strife, and courage, from an author who knows deeply about the human experience and the complexities of the natural world. What a wonderful experience for me!
-- anglexky on BookSirens
I really enjoyed this book. Written about a crew on a cargo ship and their rivalry with an evil captain on a German U-boat during WW11. This book details the inner workings of life on the U-boat which was fascinating and terrifying at the same time. Good triumphs over Evil in unexpected ways. A fast paced read.
-- Lorna on BookSirens
Thank you for the opportunity to read The Hunt for the Peggy C. The enormous amount of time and effort required to research and digest all the facts about U boats, tramp steamers, and historical events and to weave that information into such a compelling story is quite an accomplishment. I cannot think of another book as factually intense that I would call a page turner, but The Hunt for the Peggy C. was hard to put down. The plot moved at a great pace, with vivid descriptions and great character development.
-- Millerpoodle on BookSirens
The cover says The Hunt for the Peggy C is a WW II maritime novel, but I would call it a thriller from start to finish. From the minute we meet Captain Rogers of the Peggy C tramp steamer, we get almost non-stop action and intrigue. Set just before the USA gets into the war, the Peggy C is on a mission – several, actually – to bring supplies to Europe through clever sailing through dangerous, U-Boat infested waters.
All too soon, Rogers and his crew are confronted by the relentless U-Boat commander Brauer, who will stop at nothing to get the Peggy C. Much of the book is the cat and mouse maneuvering by the two captains, but there is a lot of other intrigue and action going on in the meantime. To say more would be to give away too much of the plot. I stayed up way past my bedtime to get to the end – the last few chapters are exciting and I had no idea how the end of the novel would turn out.
I admit I knew little of this side of WW II. I’ve read extensively about the land battles and of course, the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a must to understand the German side of the war, but I haven’t read much about the sea battles or how tramp steamers and other non-naval (non-military) ships contributed to keeping the supply chain going for the Allies.
I’ve been inside a U-Boat so that helped give me a sense of the claustrophobic (and smelly) conditions that the men endured, and Mr. Mill has given a detailed description of life on board a U-Boat. He’s also researched tactics and the technical specs of the U-Boat and again gives great detail about various issues the U-Boat faces with technical and mechanical issues as Brauer hunts the Peggy C.
There’s far less technical detail about the operation of a tramp steamer, but we learn enough through the various jobs of the crew. And while we’re learning about all these things, we’re presented with a gripping story of suspense, ingenuity, and even some romance.
There’s a bibliography at the end of the book for those who might want to read more about U-Boats and the role of tramp steamers in the war. My only cringe is that Mr. Miller cites Wikipedia. As a retired college professor, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to caution my students not to cite Wikipedia as a source at the end of their papers. However, that’s a pretty minor issue given the other works he cites, and this is a novel, not an academic paper.
In the Acknowledgements, Mr. Miller reveals that this story was written originally as a screenplay, but COVID interfered with selling the idea and he decided to turn it into a novel. I’m glad he did, and I hope that someday it does become a movie or miniseries – so much happens in the book that a movie is probably inadequate, but a 6 or 8 hour miniseries would be perfect.
In short, this is a great first novel by a long time journalist and screenwriter, and I appreciate getting the opportunity to read an advance copy of it. If you enjoy WW II stories and want to learn while you read a thriller of a maritime novel, get your hands on a copy of The Hunt for the Peggy C. You’ll be glad you did.
I received a free advance reader copy of The Hunt for the Peggy C through Booksirens and leave this review voluntarily.
-- Holly at BookSirens & GoodReads