Saturday, August 17, 2013

21. The Moonraker Mutiny by Antony Trew

These 1970's manly action books put out by Fontana were really where I began with my adult reading.  I don't remember specifically who introduced me to Desmond Bagley, it must have been my dad, but he was my favourite in my high school and college years.  Once I finish re-reading the Parker series, I may go back and read his books again.  I also discovered Duncan Kyle through Fontana as well.  They are manly adventure books, but generally written with some intelligence and that British WWII mentality that doesn't have to get in your face about being badass.  So when I see one, I will always give it a scan, which is what happened at the sadly closing down Blackberry books in Kitsilano where I found The Moonraker Mutiny.  I mean how can I resist this cover?  At the very least, I know it will give my wife something to snicker about.

The Moonraker Mutiny turned out to be quite an enjoyable read, with a more complex storyline than I had expected from the blurb.  It's about a merchant freighter with a once competent but now broken and badly alchoholic captain and its sketchy crew who are making a run from Australia to Cape Town when they get caught in a hurricane.  Things go bad in many ways, leaving the ship engineless and badly damaged.  The crew, led by the treacherous and disrespectful Italian first mate, decides to abandon ship, leaving the captain, his neice, his steward and one young mechanic.  We follow the stories of both groups, as well as the sleazy owner back in London and another smaller merchant ship coming from Antarctica whose fate becomes entwined in a really interesting way with Moonraker's.

And that is what pushed this book from pretty good to really damned enjoyable to me.  The first half was decent, with a nice range of characters (though a few stereotypes such as the aforementioned first mate), but I thought the story was going to be either about the mutiny or the ship in the storm.  It turns out that was merely a jumping off point and a lot of other cool things happened.  I didn't realize that even up in the modern days the law of salvage at sea is still valid and there are boats that just trawl the sea looking for abandoned ships and who will get aggressive with one another for salvage rights.  It makes for some pretty cool sea action, especially when you are dealing with a crippled tanker that still has the barely coherent captain aboard.

Sigh, one more author to add to the list.


Kelly Robinson said...

I can't decide what I like best about this cover. The Skipper? The tank top? The magic market tattoo?

OlmanFeelyus said...

It's a tough call! For me, it's the sideburns.