FIRE ROCK by James Wood


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Adventure without melodrama distinguishes this realistic novel of the Norwegian Sea, whose plot is based upon a moral point of maritime law. A Scottish fishing trawler ventures too close to the fishing grounds off the fictional island-nation of Nordland (read Iceland) and is rammed by a Nordlander patrol vessel quite unnecessarily. A British protection vessel and other trawlers also arrive to see what has happened, but the protection vessel gives no aid to the Scottish vessel when it is boarded and taken over by the Nordlanders. The Scottish captain dives overboard and escapes unseen to a friendly trawler, while his ship is impounded and taken to a tiny Nordland port. The escaped captain and another captain plot to recover the vessel. Meanwhile, far out at sea, a U.S. passenger plane crashes near Fire Rock island while carrying two Russian spies from the States to Russia. The survivors, two men and two women, are put up on the deserted island by a hermit ornithologist who lives there. When the Scottish captains finally steal their own boat back, they heave to at Fire Rock to disguise the stolen ship. What they plan to do is dock the commandeered ship at a British port, desert it and make the British Navy face up to its poor protection reputation.... Characterization is routine, and Fire Rock is not really exploited either as background or thematically. And a final confrontation with the Admiralty is avoided, which is the novel's one obligatory scene. Nevertheless, the main situation evolves readably.

Publisher: Vanguard