David Poyer's cycle of modern Navy tales ranks among the finest nautical fiction of our time. With China Sea, his self-doubting protagonist Daniel V. Lenson faces for the first time the unforgiving challenge of command at sea.
Ordered to relieve an alcoholic skipper, Dan finds he has inherited a damaged ship, an untrustworthy crew, and an ambiguous mission. He is to take the USS Oliver C. Gaddis, soon to become the PNS Tughril, on her final voyage to be donated to Pakistan. But in Kirachi, Dan gets new orders: take Gaddis still further east, and operate against modern pirates preying on commercial shipping in the remote, dangerous South China Sea.
Pursuing an elusive and shadowy foe into an exotic, isolated world of hazardous reefs and tropical islands, Dan gradually discerns a larger purpose behind his supposed objective. Who are these "pirates?" What expansionist cunning supports them? Abandoned by the Navy, threatened by a mutinous crew, a murderous shipmate, and an approaching typhoon, Gaddis struggles to survive without crossing the shadow-line herself.
Filled with suspense, battle, and unforgettable descriptions of the sea's beauty and violence, China Sea continues Dan Lenson's star-crossed career in what Booklist calls, "One of the outstanding bodies of nautical fiction during the last half-century."
An American frigate clashes with a Chinese pirate warship in Poyer's latest nautical adventure, which begins innocuously enough when Dan Lenson takes command of the USS Gaddis, an embattled vessel that has just been donated to Pakistan. Lenson is supposed to captain the ship only to its final destination, where his onboard Pakistani counterpart is scheduled to take over, but a disastrous emergency rescue of an Egyptian vessel near the Suez Canal reveals the tension between the American and Pakistani crews and their unease with the terms of the donation. Saddled with a ragtag, mutinous crew, Lenson is further plagued by an unidentified serial killer on board, who continues to elude capture. The voyage takes yet another strange turn when the captain gets new orders to head for China, and finds his ship involved in an international mission to curb a Chinese pirate operation while the rest of the world watches the U.S. take on Saddam Hussein. As the operation progresses, Lenson realizes he is being steered toward a final confrontation with a Chinese warship, knowing full well that if he loses the battle, the existence of his mission will be disavowed by his superiors. Poyer displays a fine sense of pace and plot when the focus is on seagoing affairs, and the battle scenes are scintillating and satisfying. But several nagging problems surface: the author occasionally gets caught up in nautical jargon; the writing veers toward cliche when the narrative drifts from the ship's maneuvers; and several plot machinations involving a relatively insignificant incident strain credulity. Poyer is a master of the genre, but this title lacks the consistency of his best work.