The Last Boat begins with a close-up account of the greatest maritime disaster in British history when the British Expeditionary Force lost more troops in ten minutes than it had in the previous nine months.
The news was so shocking that Churchill suppressed it and the report on the event is sealed until the year 2040.
But this is not an investigation into this tragic event but the beginning of a journey for a group of young people who have gone to help but find themselves trapped and fleeing the Nazi blitzkrieg as it rampages through France.
At the same time that the Luftwaffe is strafing the survivors of their bombing another shipment, so important that it could have changed the outcome of the war, is trying to escape from France.
The tragedy was the sinking of HMT Lancastria on 17th June 1940.
The shipment was world’s entire supply of D2O or ‘heavy water’ without which research into splitting the atom would have been impossible.
Prising apart the floorboards of history, The Last Boat links these two events as Jack Renouf and his friends try to escape the Germans and help this cargo to safety.
But safety is an illusion and the story culminates in the bombing of Jersey on 28th June and leaves Jack in desperate need of another Last Boat to escape.
The narrative voice is Jack Renouf’s, whom readers might have met in Against The Tide. He is a year older but only a little wiser. Through the immediacy of his first person perspective you are compelled to witness events which cannot leave you unmoved. ‘Muscular authenticity’ was the verdict of one reviewer while others have described Jack’s account as ‘intense, exciting, absorbing and frightening'
My 5 Star Review
I received the book from the author for an honest review.
(Die man leer net nie, ai tog.) The man just does not learn...sigh. Caroline's hold over him was relentless, but yet it shows his softer side. In The Last Boat, we met up with a year older Jack, ruthless, more determined and adventures as the German invasion becomes more real on the island of Jersey. With his trustworthy Boadicea that takes him every where he needs to go.
With more twists in this historical, the plot develops with a steady pace as all the old characters were back. Some more tenacious, some even disappointing but yet it enhanced the story line from scene to scene. Still very descriptive you learn more about the group as they prepare for war against Germany. As low flying warplanes bring tension to the inhabitants, and the general mood changed from tranquil to unbearable tension people change. Some fighting for what is theirs others taking advantage of the moment to make a quick buck. With Shakespearean quotes that reflect the mood of the particular scene beautifully.
The author's knowledge and research coming through as you learn about the different boats, engines, swimming and tides of the ocean. Each playing a significant role within the plot line. Giving you a good idea of what life had to be during those troubled times. Suspense full, a love-triangle and relationships breaking down or mending, all a sub plot which all plays a role in building the story to an enjoyable read. Masterly crafted as the author takes you into the world of his characters and actual events that make this believable and entertaining.