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The Keeper's Son
is a lively tale of love and redemption set on Killakeet Island of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Dominating the glorious beauty of the little island is the majestic Killakeet Lighthouse, kept for generations by the Thurlow family.
Seventeen years after the loss of the keeper's youngest son at sea, Coast Guard Captain Josh Thurlow still searches for his baby brother even after German U-boats arrive to soak the beaches with blood.
Dosie Crossan, a lusty young woman in love with love, must decide between Josh and her own self-respect while fighting her own war against the invaders.
The strands of the story - inexplicable loss, the sometimes strange pathways of love, a plan of hideous murder, the unyielding nature of Providence - are wound ever tighter until the stunning and astonishing final chapter.
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From Publishers Weekly
A gutsy Coast Guard officer battles German submarines and 17 years of unfettered guilt on the North Carolina coast in 1941 and 1942 in this high adventure yarn.
Hickam, the author of the memoir Rocket Boys (which was turned into the film October Sky), knows a great deal about submarine warfare in WWII, as evidenced by his 1989 nonfiction naval history, Torpedo Junction.
This is the first novel of a planned series about rough and tumble Coast Guard Lt. Josh Thurlow and his unusual patrol boat crew during WWII.
Josh, 31, is a career officer assigned to Killakeet Island, along North Carolina's treacherous Outer Banks.
Both he and his father-the keeper of the Killakeet Lighthouse-are haunted by the loss at sea and presumed death of Josh's two-year-old baby brother 17 years earlier.
Shaken from his brooding by the appearance of German U-boats, Josh must try to protect the merchant ships torpedoed every night offshore.
His patrol boat is small and ill-equipped, and his crew is a wacky group of casual islanders who aren't sure they really want to fight anybody.
A talented U-boat commander named Krebs becomes Josh's honored enemy, but another U-boat skipper is a far more ruthless and dangerous adversary.
Josh must fight both, as well as his suspicions that his little brother may not be dead after all; the reappearance of a childhood sweetheart leavens the mix.
Hickam provides a vivid and convincing portrayal of life under the sea in a U-boat, as well as on the surface in a fragile patrol boat.
Well-crafted characters, gripping naval warfare and colorful island life come together in this dynamic and exciting tale.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This excellent story of World War II on the Outer Banks will surprise no one who remembers Hickam's Torpedo Junction (1989), his nonfiction account of the U-boat war off the American coast in 1942.
Drawing on his research for that book, Hickam deftly crafts a romantic, even melodramatic story, occasionally venturing beyond the limitations of historical factuality but always presenting consistent viewpoints for both American and German characters.
The former include the title character, Coast Guard Lieutenant Josh Thurlow in his 83-foot patrol boat, the Maudie Jane; her motley crew; and the inhabitants of Killakeet Island.
The Germans are hard-driving but ethical Captain Krebs, commander of U-560, and his crew, one of whom, Harro Stollenberg, may be Josh's brother, Jacob, who was lost at sea 17 years earlier.
The pacing, the building of character with carefully chosen detail, and the masterful construction of a setting are as much strengths of this novel as they are of Hickam's other books.
He evokes with great skill a time and a place that is passing out of living memory, and if he completes his projected series about Josh Thurlow and those who went down to the sea in Coast Guard cutters, he will have made a very notable addition to American maritime literature, indeed.
Roland Green Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Amazon.com Reader Review rating: 5 stars out of five