Louis L’Amour’s long-lost first novel, faithfully completed by his son, takes readers on a voyage into danger and violence on the high seas.
Fate is a ship.
As the shadows of World War II gather, the SS Lichenfield is westbound across the Pacific carrying eighty thousand barrels of highly explosive naphtha. The cargo alone makes the journey perilous, with the entire crew aware that one careless moment could lead to disaster.
But yet another sort of peril haunts the Lichenfield. Even beyond their day-to-day existence, the lives of the crew are mysteriously intertwined. Though each has his own history, dreams and jealousies, longing and rage, all are connected by a deadly web of chance and circumstance.
Some are desperately fleeing the past; others chase an unknown destiny. A few are driven by the desire for adventure, while their shipmates cling to the Lichenfield as their only true home. In their hearts, these men, as well as the women and children they have left behind, carry the seeds of salvation or destruction. And all of them—kind or cruel, strong or broken—are bound to the fate of the vessel that carries them toward an ever-darkening horizon.
Inspired by Louis L’Amour’s own experiences as a merchant seaman, No Traveller Returns is a revelatory work by a world-renowned author—and a brilliant illustration of a writer discovering his literary voice.
Praise for No Traveller Returns
“A highly entertaining nautical adventure . . . Beau L’Amour has done his father’s fans a service by showcasing the future bestselling author’s already developed storytelling and mature insights into human nature.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Although L’Amour’s name will be forever linked with the American West, fans should welcome the opportunity to read some of his early work. . . . The insight into each character is typical of everything L’Amour ever wrote.”—Booklist
As Louis L'Amour's son, Beau, explains in an afterword, he has taken the "roughly patched" segments of what would have been his father's first novel and turned them into a highly entertaining nautical adventure. The narrative focuses on the 33 men who comprise the crew of the tanker SS Lichenfield, which is carrying a cargo of highly explosive naphtha from Los Angeles across the Pacific in early 1939. L'Amour (1908 1988) drew on his experiences as a merchant seaman and those of his fellow sailors to create characters such as Dutchman Pete Brouwer, who's always planning to return home but never making it; Tex Worden, the lone survivor of a shipwreck; and thoughtful Second Mate John Harlan, who delivers some of the book's best lines (e.g. "a very slight change in atmospheric conditions or a difference of a few degrees of temperature, and we might no longer exist"). The fate of the ship and its crew matters less than the characters' often conflicting relationships. Beau L'Amour has done his father's fans a service by showcasing the future bestselling author's already developed storytelling and mature insights into human nature.