Tuesday, August 09, 2011

REVIEW: Deadly Straits

Title: Deadly Straits
Author: R. E. McDermott
Genre: Thriller
Price: $2.99 (Kindle or Nook)
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Point of Sale: Amazon author's site
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

A word of warning – when you sit down to read R. E. McDermott’s first novel, Deadly Straits, make sure you have time to read it in one sitting. You will not want to put this book down!

The book is the story of Alex Kairouz and Tom Dugan and how they get involved in a multi-national plot to disrupt world oil shipping. Alex owns Phoenix Shipping, a London-based firm which has been forcibly subverted by a mysterious “Captain Braun.” Tom is an American who runs a ship operations consultancy. He’s friends with Alex, and Alex is his biggest client, so when Tom is approached by the CIA to investigate a suspicious hijacking he agrees with reluctance.

Since all this happens in the first few “pages” of this e-book, I’m not giving away much. But that’s about all I can say about the plot, as a key component of this story is figuring out who’s doing what to whom where and when. The author, McDermott, is a graduate of the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy and runs a ship operations consultancy in the US and Singapore. This detailed knowledge of ships, the sea and modern merchant operations colors Deadly Straits, to good effect.

As you can suspect from my warning at the top of this post, Deadly Straits is a thriller, with a lot of straightforward action. Having said that, McDermott avoids the of “too much information” trap that’s typical of thrillers. We never once hear of the type of engine on McDermott’s ships, for example, because we don’t need to know that. If we do need to know, well, he tells us in an interesting and readable fashion.

Another problem of thrillers is the cardboard character. Now, don’t get me wrong – Deadly Straits is nobody’s idea of a character-driven cozy – but the characters are generally believable and not typically drawn from Central Casting. There are two exceptions to this rule – one of the CIA characters is your typical political hack boss, and Alex at the end does something I didn’t find quite believable. These are minor flaws which in no way hampered my enjoyment of this wonderful book. I highly recommend Deadly Straits to anybody looking for a fast-paced and enjoyable read.

Rating: 9/10

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