THE KEEPER'S SON
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. Agents, Frank Weimann and Mickey Freiberg.(Oct.)
Forecast: The success of the Rocket Boys trilogy should help launch this new series, as should an extensive author tour—Hickam is a practiced speaker.
Release date: 10/01/2003