Splinter on the Tide - Phillip Parotti

Splinter on the Tide - Phillip Parotti

This is a strange book, that doesn’t seem to be quite sure where it fits. It’s certainly not historic fiction but has substantial overtones of romance and coming of age genres; in that respect, it’s quite confused. That said, the book is an entertaining, if relatively light read, which I enjoyed.

The story revolves around Ash Miller, newly promoted to being the skipper of a submarine chaser, Chaser 3, after suffering a sinking on his previous ship. Along with his promotion and newly built and commissioned ship, he gains a largely green crew. The story is an interesting one of how the crew start bonding and working together, forming a cohesive fighting and supportive team. The relationship between Ash and his two subordinate officers is lightly explored and their banter is often fairly amusing.

Then we get the romance interests, which involves Ash with a local librarian and teacher, and his subordinate officers one of whom has a romance with the other’s sister, whilst the brother is having a romance with his sister’s friend. Rather trite and twee, to be honest.

The sea action scenes are often quite gritty and memorable, the romance scenes rather puerile, adolescent and infinitely forgettable.

As always, military equipment is in short supply and the crew simply have to get by with what they have and improvise where they haven’t, on their duties as convoy escort and protection vessel.

One of the more unbelievable aspects of the story is that Ash, as a newly promoted skipper, designs and enacts a novel methodology for protecting the ships he’s acting as escort for; without seeking prior authorisation for departing from the tried and tested routines. Of course, he’s successful, but it does stretch the imagination a little.

I thought that generally, the male characters were well rounded, largely credible, and likeable. The female characters seemed to be very shallow by comparison. As the author is no youngster, I think that his age and points of view begin to show a little here.

The book is quite well written, I didn’t spot any typos, but there were a few sentences that ran to extreme length and I had to reread them several times in order to make some sort of sense out of them.

I’m going to run slightly above mid-table for this book with 31/2 anchors. Take it as lightweight bedtime reading and it’s OK. In many ways, it reminded me of a fairly shallow version of Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea.

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