By Duncan Harding
Magna Large Print Books, 2007
ISBN : 978-07505-2669-2
Genre: Suspense, Historic Fiction
Reviewed by Herbert White - March 26, 2007
At the end of World War I, the British began to take notice of the growing menace posed by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. In a strategic move, the British Secret Service tried, in various ways, to destabilize the Bolsheviks before they could consolidate their hold on the Russian people. One such plan was the Red Track Approach, which is chronicled in this fictional, although based on fact, account...
Written by Duncan Harding, Torpedo Boat is the thrilling story of Lieutenant Horatio "Dickie" Bird and his adventures running experimental Skimmers into the heavily mined Petrograd harbor. The story takes place in 1919, and in it we find that Dickie has been tasked by the mysterious 'C', head of the British Secret Service to run his skimmers to Petrograd. Initially, his job would be to set up a sort of courier service, picking up and dropping off the spies that man the R-Network, the British intelligent network in Russia.
The skimmers are small, high speed motor boats that were, at the time, the fastest thing on the water. For this mission, Dickie's fleet consists of two of the skimmers, outfitted with torpedo tubes. These are two man craft, and Dickie mans his with the aid of Ginger Coates, while the other boat is manned by Dickie's friend Sub-lieutenant de Vere French and Leading Seamen Bull. Their mission takes them across Finland, where they pick up their first 'package' in the form of Anna, Baroness von Klauwitz, a beautiful and deadly Russian who was schooled in England and who works for 'C'. Their second mission, with the skimmers, involves them trying to sink the Soviet heavy battleship, the Spartak. Along the way there is lots of fighting, action, and a growing love-interest between Dickie and Anna. The story also follows Anna's adventures after she is landed in Russia. Her story alone could have made for a novel in itself.
Overall, this book reads a bit like a Hardy Boy's story only with very adult themes. Dickie and de Vere are like two boys on holiday looking for a bit of adventure -which they find in spades. This is a quick and easy book to read and the action is almost non-stop. In short, Torpedo Boat is an entertaining book that will please action junkies and fans of military adventure stories.
One word of warning, the picture on the cover of this book gives the impression that this is a World War II story. The picture features a fighter bearing a swastika that seems to be firing on a convoy of naval vessels. There are no planes in this book and it is definitely not a World War II book as it is set in 1919. The mistake, however, is an easy one to make. Firstly, the title can be a bit misleading as Torpedo Boats were used during World War II. Secondly, this misunderstanding is complicatd by the fact that Duncan Harding is one of the many pennames of Charles Whiting, the prolific writer of World War II histories and novels.
Torpedo Boat can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of Magna Large Print Books.
A Bridge at Arnhem, by Charles Whiting.
A popular history of the Battle of Arnhem, and the Allies failed attempt to wrench the Arnhem Bridge, guarded by SS Panzer Divisions, from the Germans. (Large Print)