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Ostara Publishing

09 Apr 2011
Books: A Flock of Ships

Julia Jones Golden Duck blog

Top Notch Thrillers

I can't believe that I didn't write an entry after the Margery Allingham Society convention in Ipswich at the beginning of Septemeber. But I didn't and Mike Ripley did.  Here's his account from the October edition of Shotsmag. 

My personal debt to Mike comes from his recommendation of the Ostara list of Top Notch Thrillers. After the convention I brought Brian Callison's A Flock of Ships. Loved it! Callison was in the merchant navy from age 16 and that was in the days when we had a merchant navy. Ships still had an individuality - and so did their masters and men. Callison is good on the tensions within a ship's company and the wider tensions when merchant ships had to work with the Royal Navy in WW2 convoy system. A Flock of Ships recounts the bloody tragedy of a fictional convoy which appears to have been exploited and let down by the Senior Service. Yet perhaps the most moving - lump in the throat - moment in the book is the last view of an elderly RN chief petty officer methodically pulling the fuses from his own ship's depth charges in order to minimise the harm to the merchant ship which has sliced them in two and is steaming on without making any attempt to rescue survivors. The body count is high and the plot full of twists but the sheer knowledge of what may happen when two immense metal hulls are pushing the same masses of water towards one another is incomparable. I could go on - instead I recommend both Ostara's list and Callison's work. (I have another volume just arrived ...)

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