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In the autumn of 1941 Lieutenant Nicholas Hamilton, commander of the UK submarine Rapier, is told to take his sub from the Mediterranean out to the Far East, where things are currently peaceful. And this move, motivated largely by the Royal Navy's desire to keep Hamilton (a daring, insubordinate nuisance) out of trouble, infuriates the action-loving skipper. Just as soon as the Rapier gets near Hong Kong, however, the situation heats up a bit: attacked by supposedly neutral Japanese planes, Hamilton fights back--to the dismay of local UK diplomats. Next, when a Japanese warship forces the UK ship Firefly into Hai-An Bay, taking the captain as a quasi-hostage, Hamilton undertakes a risky mission to free the Firefly: the submerged Rapier sneaks into the bay (without the usual navigational aids)--and, after boarding the Japanese warship, Hamilton uses a phony typhoon scare to defuse all the Japanese threats. But the major combat begins towards the novel's end, when December brings official war between the Allies and Japan: the Rapier is virtually the only force standing between Hong Kong and Japanese occupation; Hamilton takes pleasure in annihilating enemy landing-craft (""No prisoners!""); and the ensuing hostilities include the fatal interrogation/torture of Hamilton's new Chinese-Portuguese girlfriend--whose death is speedily avenged. Virtually devoid of characterization, heavy on racist epithets and bloodthirsty posturing: only for fanatic devourers of sub-warfare action.

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 1984
Publisher: Walker