Thursday, 19 October 2000

Hammond Innes: Atlantic Fury (1962)

Edition: Collins, 1963
Review number: 657

Atlantic Fury reads as though it were the novelisation of a disaster movie. Laerh, a fictionalised remote Hebridean island, is used as an army base, until it becomes superfluous. Then a decision is suddenly made to evacuate the base, before winter storms cut it off, and the evacuation coincides with an extremely severe early storm, wrecking the transport boats and hampering rescue attempts.

This plot is combined with a man's search for his brother. Believed dead in the war, evidence has appeared which makes it look as though Iain Ross swapped identities with a really dead man after a shipwreck. Since the man he is now believed to be has been sent to Laerg - by an unlikely coincidence, the Ross family home before its inhabitants were moved when the base was established - to oversee the evacuation. The coincidences multiply; Laerg was also where he was washed ashore after the wreck.

The whole novel is far fetched, but there is no denying that it is an exciting thriller, particularly in the scenes at sea. The suspense doesn't hide the thin characters or the holes in the plot; it is not in the end one of Innes' best pieces of writing.

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