Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Storm Warning by Jack Higgins - Book Review

Publisher's write-up:

'It's 1944 and Germany is facing defeat. Across the wild Atlantic, dominated by Allied navies, twenty-seven passengers aboard the barquentine Deutschland are battling home.

Waiting for them are a U-boat ace captured in a desperate raid on Falmouth, a female American doctor caught in the nightmare of flying bombs, a gunboat commander who's fought from the Solomon's to the Channel and a rear admiral determined to get back into action. Allies and enemies, men and women, the hunters and the haunted all drawn inescapably into the eye of the storm.'

The Storm Warning is an adventure story with the Second World War as the background. A German merchant ship leaves from Brazil for Kiel, with a crew of desperate German sailors and five nuns who intent to return home at all costs. On the other end, Paul Gericke, a commander in the German navy is sent on a near suicide mission in Falmouth and ends up being captured by the British. Both these are disconnected stories till they meet at a particular point heading for an interesting climax.

Before getting too deep, I wish to clarify that this is not a thriller novel or a standard Second World War novel, it so happens that the main characters are military personnel and that the story takes place during the war; but for that, this is a standard adventure story than a thriller novel. Jack Higgins tries to reiterate in this book as well, that soldiers on both sides are compassionate humans first, which is more powerful than their hatred for the enemy (similar to The Eagle has Landedand eventually, they come together for a common cause, beyond the lines of the war. In a way, I find that Jack Higgins is one of the very few authors who writes war novels without taking a 'black or white' approach to the enemy and identifies them as normal people with various dimensions to their character. The book was also reasonably paced and wasn't too long, making it easier to read.

However, I felt that the two plots were totally disconnected, and the book was in fact two separate stories till the last hundred pages where these two merge for an interesting climax. Owing to the fact that the book had two different stories, the author could not focus much on building the individual characters, including the principal protagonist Paul Gericke (who incidentally gets introduced only after 100 pages) and I even found his over-confident attitude a little annoying. The other side, the ship story had nothing particularly interesting either, considering they reached till Hebrides without any major hindrances and for the sake of it, there was a pointless romantic sub-plot between a sailor and a young nun (who is yet to take the pledge).

This is neither a great adventure story nor an amazing story based on the Second World War barring the climax and I don't think it is worth reading the whole book for the sake of a reasonably built climax which otherwise simply goes back and forth with too many characters that I was unable to keep track of more than five (on both the plots) beyond a point.

To conclude, I would rate this book a four on ten, which could have been lower had it not been for the last hundred pages.

Rating - 4/10

Have a nice day,

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