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THE ALBATROSS RUN by Douglas Scott



Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Secker & Warburg--dist. by David & Charles

Here, Scott (Eagle's Blood, The Hanged Man, The Spoils of War) tells the story of an American journalist, chronicler of the private soldier, who is witness to and then participant in the tragic final voyage of the flamboyant and bedeviled captain of a merchant ship in WW II. Ben Darby, laid up in a Bombay hospital after an airplane crash, is saved from anti-British mob violence by Captain Ben Taggart. Taggart, celebrated for the sinking of a German U-boat, is a violent man who has come to believe all the adulation heaped on him by a press hungry for heroes. He takes Darby under his wing and then takes the nurse Darby has his eyes set on. It is with some misgiving, then, that the journalist, under orders of the editor who has sent him to Sierra Leone, ships out on Taggart's ship, the Kildare Glen. Taggart steers the ship safely across the Indian Ocean, through cyclones and around Japanese warships, but his cruelty to his sailors appalls Darby and even appears to result in the death of a young deckhand. Although Taggart is cleared of any involvement by a South African court, he has lost what little trust he had from his own crew, and when the voyage continues and Taggart falls ill, his fate is in the hands of the men he has treated with contempt and cruelty. Darby alone knows the demons that torment Taggart, and it falls to him to try to save the man. No new ground is broken here, but it is a good and solemnly told sea-tale from a forgotten corner of the war.