Rules of Encounter

William P. Kennedy, Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (357p) ISBN 978-0-312-06182-1
Kennedy ( Toy Soldiers ) floats this war story on the plausibly relayed theory that Churchill's Admiralty tricked the Germans into attacking the Lusitania in order to sink America's neutrality and draw her into WW I. To smuggle badly needed munitions past the Germans' deadly U-boats, Sir Peter Beecham and his aide, Commander William Day, assign the contraband onto refitted passenger ships, which are off-limits to submarine attack under the Rules of Encounter. When Day and Beecham's daughter Jennifer begin a romance, Sir Peter, deeming the alliance inappropriate, has the young commander reassigned to the Irish coast. Unbeknownst to Beecham, however, Churchill's spy at this station is sending information to the Germans that will precipitate the attack on the Lusitania . Stumbling on the plan, Day tries desperately to abort it when he learns that Jennifer has sailed on the Lusitania in order to join him. At his best in the Irish segments and early submarine details, Kennedy captures the atmosphere of a world abandoning chivalric codes of conduct for wholesale brutality and ever more deadly war machines. The romantic notes don't ring as true, however, and the superficial characterizations detract from an otherwise racing read. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/30/1992
Release date: 04/01/1992
Genre: Fiction
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