“A great submarine story, on a par with The Hunt for Red October.”—Nelson DeMille
Shattered by surprise attack, the U.S. rebuilds its fleet at Pearl Harbor. And the badly damaged Submarine Division Seven holds the line against the Japanese Navy.
Every enemy ship that slips through means more lives lost. Now it’s up to Lt. Commander Jack Tremain to whip into shape a hardluck boat that’s returned from what may be the worst patrol in history. The loss of even one more American sub could be devastating.
But Tremain is determined to make the Japanese pay. Even if this is his last patrol ever.
With its brisk pacing and wealth of military detail, Cooke's much-heralded debut (bearing prominent blurbs from Nelson DeMille, W.E.B. Griffin and Stephen Coonts, among others) lives up to the hype. A year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lt. Cmdr. Jack Tremain is about to leave Hawaii and join his family in the States when he's tapped to take command of the USS Mackerel. The submarine's crew is demoralized after losing three of its members on its last patrol, and it's Tremain's job to turn things around. Soon after the ensemble cast is introduced, Tremain leads the Mackerel into battle against a Japanese escort ship. Back on shore, Tremain is offered a pass home, but he opts to stay, sensing that the Mackerel (to which he has become attached) is about to be sent on a suicide mission. Cooke, who served on a nuclear sub for seven years, vividly conveys the fear and claustrophobia of men trapped in a confined space ("Some clasped their hands in prayer. Others stared into space attempting to erase the ominous noises from their minds"). The sometimes turbulent relationships among the crew effectively counterpoint the dangers waiting just outside. Tremain proves himself an admirable hero in the tradition of the finest historical naval fiction.