October 1943: Lt. Commander Jack Tremain is back on duty with a new sub and a new mission. But when he spots the Shigure-the Japanese destroyer that sank his beloved first command, the Seatrout-he declares his own personal war on the dreaded ship known as the "Submarine Killer."
In his third WWII submarine thriller (following Rise to Victory), Cooke once again puts his extensive naval expertise to fine use providing rich procedural detail and tactical suspense that does much to forgive a stock cast and a mundane, land-based climax. Fresh from burying his wife, Lt. Cmdr. Jack Tremain returns to the South Pacific in October 1943 with orders to sink a Japanese convoy. After a chance encounter with the notorious Japanese destroyer the Shigure, aka the The Scourge of the Solomons and The Cruiser Killer, Tremain develops Ahab fever, rerouting to pursue the deadly vessel that sank his beloved first command; in the process, he unwittingly puts his ship in the sights of allies and enemies alike. Cooke's detached tone expertly evokes the claustrophobic tedium of submarine combat, but dries up most character moments, especially in an amateurish romance subplot; fortunately, another subplot involving half a fortune concealed below deck ramps up the paranoia and turns suspicious crew members against each other. While serviceable, the climactic battle is hampered by one too many Hollywood-style close shaves. Still, the painstaking detail and tactile precision of diesel-run sub warfare provides a largely refreshing antidote to today's glut of hollow high-tech thrill rides. (Aug.)
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July 31, 2007
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