THE LIGHTSHIP by Siegfried Lenz


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A brief, taut, somewhat shadowy novel about a lightship that is taken over by three criminals. Both the lightship and its captain, Freytag, are almost at the end of a long, sedentary tour of duty, warning passing ships off sand bars and old mine fields. And when Freytag rescues the three men from their boat, and realizes what they are, his first instinct is to do nothing until the officials come to take away the boat. But as the idiot gun-man and his brother, and the suave Dr. Caspery take command, with threats and guns, it develops that Freytag has, once before, let duty be an excuse for doing nothing in a hopeless situation. This has incurred his son's contempt, as well as that of his crew, who organize ill-made plots of their own. But Freytag will not signal other ships, or break the status quo in any way. Finally, one of the seamen is killed in a scuffle, and the cook kills the idiot. The remaining gunmen insist that the crew raise the anchor and let the lightship drift ashore. It is then that Freytag intervenes and is shot... It is a spooky, well told story, with static, almost impotent, good arrayed against active evil- and the quiet, beautiful, impersonal sea waiting all around.

Publisher: Hill & Wang