THE COMMODORE by Jan de Hartog


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A seaworthy novel indeed--a sequel to The Captain--that finds de Hartog writing in his best adventure-vein. Also, he has for the moment abandoned his theological impulse. Commodore Martinus Harinxma, for the past nine years in retirement in the South of France, receives an imperial summons from his 90-year-old former employer Kwel of KITCO: he is needed to oversee the transfer of a mammoth supermodern tanker to some Taiwanese. He must more or less supervise a Chinese captain and his crew on the Isabel Kwel's Atlantic crossing to Rio, before it passes through the storm belt at the Cape and into the Pacific. However, Harinxma discovers that two earlier captains have found the ship unseaworthy: despite its incredible response to its electronic guidance system, it nonetheless tends to roll horribly and unpredictably when heading at a certain angle in certain seas. Once at sea he also finds that the Chinese crew are simple fishermen who have never seen a tug this monstrously big before. The crew is so incompetent, in fact, that he requests his home office to allow him to remain onboard through the storm belt. Not only is the ship given over to rolling ear-to-ear in heavy weather, but then, just before the first big blow, a dynamite charge smashes away most of the wheelhouse, the stacks, the flying bridge and his automatic guidance--and divides in half the Chinese captain. As it happens, a Taiwanese triad (Mafia) boss has bought the ship to scuttle it for insurance, and Harinxma is sailing on a deathtrap. Exciting, humorous, ironic, and clear as brook water. High rating.

Pub Date: Aug. 27th, 1986
Publisher: Harper & Row