Shattered by the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. is rebuilding its fleet while the badly damaged Submarine Division Seven holds the line against the Japanese Navy. The loss of even one more submarine could be devastating--and every enemy ship that slips through means more lives lost. But Lieutenant Commander Jack Tremain is determined to whip into shape a boat that's returned from a hellish patrol and make the Japanese pay--even if this is his last mission ever.
With its brisk pacing and wealth of military detail, Cooke's much-heralded debut (bearing prominent blurbs from Nelson DeMille, W.E.B. Griffin and Stephen Coonts, among others) lives up to the hype. A year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lt. Cmdr. Jack Tremain is about to leave Hawaii and join his family in the States when he's tapped to take command of the USS Mackerel. The submarine's crew is demoralized after losing three of its members on its last patrol, and it's Tremain's job to turn things around. Soon after the ensemble cast is introduced, Tremain leads the Mackerel into battle against a Japanese escort ship. Back on shore, Tremain is offered a pass home, but he opts to stay, sensing that the Mackerel (to which he has become attached) is about to be sent on a suicide mission. Cooke, who served on a nuclear sub for seven years, vividly conveys the fear and claustrophobia of men trapped in a confined space ("Some clasped their hands in prayer. Others stared into space attempting to erase the ominous noises from their minds"). The sometimes turbulent relationships among the crew effectively counterpoint the dangers waiting just outside. Tremain proves himself an admirable hero in the tradition of the finest historical naval fiction. (Mar.)
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February 21, 2005
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