Reeman's 18th sea novel, almost as sea-worthy as O'Brian's Mauritius Command (above), sails off with a knockout of a plot gimmick. In 1941 the world's greatest submarine cruiser is a grand French ship in the Jules Verne manner: two extremely powerful and rapid-firing eight-inch guns fit for a surface cruiser, ten torpedo tubes that can fire in a splay (instead of by aiming the sub itself), her own seaplane, and a range of twelve thousand miles. But France has fallen to Germany, and the fleeing sub SoufriÃ¨re has holed up at a tiny Far Eastern island. Commander Robert Ainslee, a submariner of the Royal Navy, is sent to take command of the monster, which is the most dangerous ship on the seven seas: ""If she chose to cut loose, she could rip our ocean supply routes to bits,"" says Ainslee. After he bulls and braves his way aboard and takes command in the name of the Allies, the French captain goes into his grand cabin and shoots himself. Back at Singapore with his fantastic ship, Ainslee repairs it for service and escapes as the Japanese attack Singapore and Malaya and bomb Pearl Harbor. With the Prince of Wales and Repulse sunk, the SoufriÃ¨re sets forth in vengeance and retribution. At the furious climax, the ship is ordered--suicidally--to attack and delay a whole enemy naval squadron in the South China Sea, and the action heats up to an acetylene melt.