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The Wreck Of The Mary Deare

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They dismissed the Mary Deare as "a piece of leaking ironmongery taken off the junk heap". For forty years, this 6,000-ton freighter had tramped the seas, suffered shipwreck twice, and been torpedoed three times in two world wars. Then one March night, battered, bruised, and empty, she emerged from severe Biscay gales into the English Channel -- and into the newspaper head They dismissed the Mary Deare as "a piece of leaking ironmongery taken off the junk heap". For forty years, this 6,000-ton freighter had tramped the seas, suffered shipwreck twice, and been torpedoed three times in two world wars. Then one March night, battered, bruised, and empty, she emerged from severe Biscay gales into the English Channel -- and into the newspaper headlines. Here was a ship of mystery and tragedy...in one of the greatest sea stories of all time.


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They dismissed the Mary Deare as "a piece of leaking ironmongery taken off the junk heap". For forty years, this 6,000-ton freighter had tramped the seas, suffered shipwreck twice, and been torpedoed three times in two world wars. Then one March night, battered, bruised, and empty, she emerged from severe Biscay gales into the English Channel -- and into the newspaper head They dismissed the Mary Deare as "a piece of leaking ironmongery taken off the junk heap". For forty years, this 6,000-ton freighter had tramped the seas, suffered shipwreck twice, and been torpedoed three times in two world wars. Then one March night, battered, bruised, and empty, she emerged from severe Biscay gales into the English Channel -- and into the newspaper headlines. Here was a ship of mystery and tragedy...in one of the greatest sea stories of all time.

30 review for The Wreck Of The Mary Deare

  1. 4 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    Above me the sails swung in a ghostly arc, slatting back and forth as Sea Witch rolled and plunged. There was scarcely wind enough to move the boat through the water, yet the swell kicked up by the March gales ran as strong as ever and my numbed brain was conscious all the time that this was only a lull. A storm is brewing somewhere in the Atlantic, heading straight for the little sailing boat that John Sands has bought in France and is now trying to take over to a British port. He is dead ti Above me the sails swung in a ghostly arc, slatting back and forth as Sea Witch rolled and plunged. There was scarcely wind enough to move the boat through the water, yet the swell kicked up by the March gales ran as strong as ever and my numbed brain was conscious all the time that this was only a lull. A storm is brewing somewhere in the Atlantic, heading straight for the little sailing boat that John Sands has bought in France and is now trying to take over to a British port. He is dead tired at the tiller, frozen to the bones and surrounded by miles and miles of misty darkness. John dreams of the small business he is trying to start with a couple of friends, using the "Sea Witch" as a diving platform for salvaging wrecks in the Channel, in the aftermathh of World War II. He is brutally brought back to reality when a hulking, rusted mountain of iron is coming out of the dark, heading straight for his sailing boat. Nobody answers his frantic cries for help or the screams of the fog horn. The big ship looks utterly abandoned. Escaping death by inches, John as his two crew members only have time to see above the exposed propellers, in huge metal letters, the name of the ghost ship : Mary Deare With typical British sang-froid, like the fabled captain from "Typhoon", the only comment made after this close brush with death is : 'I don't mind admitting it now that we're alone', he said, 'but that was a very unpleasant moment.' This midnight close encounter is just the opening salvo in a breath-taking adventure that will reunite John Sands with the roving steamer "Mary Deare", found again adrift the following morning, seemingly abandoned by her crew and headed for destruction on the treacherous coastline of France. Lured by the possibility of salvage money, John boards the steamer, only to become marooned there by the incoming storm, alone with the half-crazy captain of the wrecked ship, Gideon Patch. The mystery of the extensive damage the steamer has suffered, of the destruction by fire of all communication devices, of the missing crew and of the irrational behaviour of Captain Patch - all these questions need to be postponed until the only truly urgent question is answered : will the two men be able to survive a Channel spring storm in the ruined ship? Do you know how old this ship is? Over forty years old. She's been torpedoed three times, wrecked twice. She's been rotting in Far Eastern ports for twenty years. Christ! She might have been waiting for me. cries Patch in frustration. Hammond Innes knows his sea lore. He speaks from direct experience, and he can put the reader right in the eye of the storm like only an old deck hand could. In my opinion, he belongs in the same top tier of maritime authors as Douglas Reeman, Patrick o'Brian and Nicholas Monsarrat. All four authors are also indebted to the great XIX century masters, Henry Melville and Joseph Conrad. I mention this, because I find the construction of the present novel, with Sands as the first person narrator and Patch as the doomed hero as typical of Conrad stories. Patch is haunted by his past mistakes, isolated by the burden of command and rejected both by the crew and by society for perceived failures of character. Also reminiscent of Conrad is the titanic struggle between human obstinacy and Nature unleashed. It is difficult to be scared of something that is inevitable. You accept it, and that is that. But I remember thinking how ironical it was; the sea was to me a liquid, quiet, unruffled world through which to glide down green corridors to the darker depths, down tall reefs walls with the fish, all brilliant colours under the surface dazzle, down to the shadowy shapes of barnacle-crusted wrecks. Now it was a raging fury of a giant, rearing up towards me, clutching at me, foaming and angry. I could write in more detail here about the clarity of the presentation, rich in technical terms, yet very easy to follow through; about the almost documentary style of the middle section of the novel, following the inquest into the "Mary Deare" sinking, about the skills of the author in building a taut thriller with plenty of action and reversals of fortune, but I believe the most enduring memories I will have of this story will have to do with the basic struggle of Man against the elements and with the ultimate refusal of the "Mary Deare", a cursed ship if ever there was one on the high seas, to sink into oblivion without a valiant fight. Highly recommended for fans of sailing adventures.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Geevee

    An enjoyable thriller about a ship, The Mary Deare, wrecked in the Minquiers (a large outcrop of rocks south of Jersey some 20 miles from the French coast). The ship hides some secrets and captain, crew, owners and insurance companies all have an interest in how, what and why. Taking readers through the shipwreck, a court of enquiry and later adventures this is a solid sea based thriller. This is helped along as it shows all the seagoing knowledge of ships, tides and weather of the author, who se An enjoyable thriller about a ship, The Mary Deare, wrecked in the Minquiers (a large outcrop of rocks south of Jersey some 20 miles from the French coast). The ship hides some secrets and captain, crew, owners and insurance companies all have an interest in how, what and why. Taking readers through the shipwreck, a court of enquiry and later adventures this is a solid sea based thriller. This is helped along as it shows all the seagoing knowledge of ships, tides and weather of the author, who served on ships including the Antarctic after his second world war service in the Royal Artillery. Innes was very popular in the 50s to late 70s writing over 30 novels. It was a fun read. The Wreck of the Mary Deare was published in 1956 by Collins. My copy was released by Vintage under their Classics collection. 272 pages.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hana

    Thrilling, atmospheric sea saga. Gideon Patch, the haunted master of the Mary Deare, is a complex and satisfying character, full of mysteries and ambiguities, by turns sinister, intriguing, admirable and tragic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cphe

    I'm a bit biased when it comes to some of these older thrillers and this story is no exception. Thoroughly enjoyed this rollicking seafaring adventure. The story of the Mary Deare and the mystery that took place upon her final voyage. The story is atmospheric and moody. The wonderful descriptions of the raging seas and the tragic Mary Deare, abandoned to her fate make this a gripping thriller. Well written with excellent characterisation, a vintage thriller.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dorcas

    I picked this up at a used book store, one of those "fill a bag for a buck" deals. It was missing a dust jacket and I almost gave it a miss but tossed it in at the last minute. I'm glad I did. This is a well written, evenly paced adventure thriller about a wreck and the crew who abandoned her, leaving the captain to live or die alone. Why were they so anxious to leave? What was the ship carrying? And why were so many lives lost? There is a court enquiry which takes up roughly one third of the book I picked this up at a used book store, one of those "fill a bag for a buck" deals. It was missing a dust jacket and I almost gave it a miss but tossed it in at the last minute. I'm glad I did. This is a well written, evenly paced adventure thriller about a wreck and the crew who abandoned her, leaving the captain to live or die alone. Why were they so anxious to leave? What was the ship carrying? And why were so many lives lost? There is a court enquiry which takes up roughly one third of the book, but I never felt impatient with it. And then we are back in the chase... trying to reach the wreck before others can destroy evidence... This was good. A nice "between books" read. CONTENT: Some foul language, but this was written in 1956 so it's pretty tame by today's standards.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessaka

    I never thought that I would like sea stories, but I loved this one, and after reading it I began picking up sea adventures. I don't recall much of this book, but it was good enough to keep to own after I read it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ladiibbug

    Maritime Mystery/Thriller Engrossing thriller. Holds up perfectly today, although originally published in 1956. A small yacht (sailing ship) in rough seas in the English channel is hit -- apparently unmanned -- by a 6,000 ton freighter. As an ominous gale approaches, John and Mike, in the small yacht, make a decision to board the freighter. They have just opened a maritime salvage business, and see this as the chance of a lifetime. John is able to board the Mary Deare, and encounters Gideon Patch, Maritime Mystery/Thriller Engrossing thriller. Holds up perfectly today, although originally published in 1956. A small yacht (sailing ship) in rough seas in the English channel is hit -- apparently unmanned -- by a 6,000 ton freighter. As an ominous gale approaches, John and Mike, in the small yacht, make a decision to board the freighter. They have just opened a maritime salvage business, and see this as the chance of a lifetime. John is able to board the Mary Deare, and encounters Gideon Patch, captain, who is alone on the ship, desperately trying to keep it afloat. Amid dangerous, chilling seas, the freighter being tossed and drenched by the huge waves, layers of mysteries arise. Where is the crew? Why and how they leave? What is the captain hiding? Where is the original captain? What was loaded into the holds, and why did the captain first appear covered in coal dust? Was the crew intentionally trying to wreck the Mary Deare in that dangerous section of the English Channel? Innes made me feel the numbing cold, the terror of being crushed by the thundering, brutal waves. Awesome read - reminded me of the superb The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea Sebastian Junger.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dillwynia Peter

    One of my little guilty pleasures is 30's to 60's British thrillers. Think Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, Helen McInnes, Alistair Maclean and Hammond Innes. This one was a big seller for Innes and a successful film was made of it starring a young Charlton Heston and an ailing Gary Cooper - a gamble because there is a very important court scene & they can be killers to films. It has all the elements that one hopes: a flawed man with high moral values, corporate or government corruption, a thug and a l One of my little guilty pleasures is 30's to 60's British thrillers. Think Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, Helen McInnes, Alistair Maclean and Hammond Innes. This one was a big seller for Innes and a successful film was made of it starring a young Charlton Heston and an ailing Gary Cooper - a gamble because there is a very important court scene & they can be killers to films. It has all the elements that one hopes: a flawed man with high moral values, corporate or government corruption, a thug and a love interest. The love interest is absent from this one, and instead we have two heroes - the flawed man, and the narrator. It is full of fishy behaviour & the crew on the Mary Deare are obviously lying. I loved the scenes involving the grounding of the derelict ship. The language is very evocative and thrilling. I thought the court scenes which take up a good third of the book flowed and continued interest throughout. The chase to the wreck was fun and exciting, but then it all just fizzled. The ending worked, but it lacked the thrills and high adventure of the start of the book, and I was disappointed. It made me take off a star. It is good to see Vintage reprint these classics to a new audience.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This is not only one of the four or five great sea adventure novels, but one of the four or five great adventure tales of our times. This novel alone would place Innes with the nineteenth century’s Robert Louis Stevenson and H. Ryder Haggard – Innes was the 20 th century answer to these two giants of adventure tales. And this may be his classic: complex relationships, legalities, and examinations of heroism, as well as the struggle in the worst elements add to the richness of this novel. This is a This is not only one of the four or five great sea adventure novels, but one of the four or five great adventure tales of our times. This novel alone would place Innes with the nineteenth century’s Robert Louis Stevenson and H. Ryder Haggard – Innes was the 20 th century answer to these two giants of adventure tales. And this may be his classic: complex relationships, legalities, and examinations of heroism, as well as the struggle in the worst elements add to the richness of this novel. This is a must read…time to toss the phone, grab the snacks and drinks, call in sick, and settle down for one great ride!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul Cornelius

    The Wreck of the Mary Deare is likely Hammond Innes' most famous and successful work, helped in part by the feature film made just three years after the novel's publication. It opens with thrills and adventure and never really stops. Even a lengthy courtroom scene covering the middle of the story works only to enhance tension and suspense. And all the while, it is probably Innes' most intense character study, in particular of Gideon Patch through the eyes of John Sands, who boards the Mary Deare The Wreck of the Mary Deare is likely Hammond Innes' most famous and successful work, helped in part by the feature film made just three years after the novel's publication. It opens with thrills and adventure and never really stops. Even a lengthy courtroom scene covering the middle of the story works only to enhance tension and suspense. And all the while, it is probably Innes' most intense character study, in particular of Gideon Patch through the eyes of John Sands, who boards the Mary Deare, an ancient dead in the water wreck of a freighter, only to find Patch as the sole survivor of a mysterious incident in which the entire crew has abandoned the ship. Innes' own love of the sea comes through in this work. His writing leaves just enough detail and use of nautical descriptions to attest to his expertise, while not alienating readers with only a cursory knowledge of the sea and ships. Some of the imagery is startling. I doubt there is another sea story that will ever match Innes' description of Patch's and Sands' escape through the Minkies, the shelf or rocks that dot the English Channel just south of Jersey. Sucked into this maelstrom at high tide, the water level then drops 30 to 40 feet, forcing the pair out of their dinghy and into a wild rush across the now dry patch of sand, gravel, and stone--only to be caught just six hours later by the rising tide and made to swim one last desperate mile to safety. I don't think Innes ever managed a better passage. A note about the film version: it brought together two major stars, Gary Cooper as Patch and Charlton Heston as Sands, along with a third soon-to-be major star, Richard Harris as the villainous Higgins. It is also notable because the film had Eric Ambler as its screenwriter. Thus was Britain's preeminent postwar adventure writer, Innes, teamed up in a way with its most important writer of political thrillers and adventure mysteries, Ambler. But for the unsatisfying turn to a scuba diving story at the end, in place of the race across the Minkies, the film holds up well as a comparison to the novel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    Re-read, May 2019. Liked this even better the second time around. The nautical scenes are so well-written and properly thrilling; and John Sands is a somehow more vulnerable and appealing "everyman" narrator than Heston's rather tougher, Americanized movie rendition—a decent, honest, ordinary guy who can take pretty good care of himself, but isn't ashamed to own up that he's scared in a terrifying situation. ..... I read this having already seen the movie version with Gary Cooper and Charlton Hest Re-read, May 2019. Liked this even better the second time around. The nautical scenes are so well-written and properly thrilling; and John Sands is a somehow more vulnerable and appealing "everyman" narrator than Heston's rather tougher, Americanized movie rendition—a decent, honest, ordinary guy who can take pretty good care of himself, but isn't ashamed to own up that he's scared in a terrifying situation. ..... I read this having already seen the movie version with Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston, which was essentially a faithful adaptation, but a streamlined one—the book has some additional characters and additional wrinkles to the plot (plus the age/appearance and personality of several key characters are quite different), and a little more conflict and detail. The best and most unique thing about it is, although there are human antagonists, the number one adversary is really the ocean itself; the best scenes of thrill and danger are those of the storms at sea. There's a moderate amount of language; not the type of four-letter words you'd find in contemporary books, but various forms of taking God's name in vain.

  12. 4 out of 5

    W

    Sea adventure which works very well on the big screen.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Scott Head

    The Wreck of the Mary Deare, written in 1956 by Hammond Innes, belongs to the genre of adventure and drama tales that crosses the gap between great literature and pure entertainment. For a land-lubber who’s only sea-faring experience is a few long off-shore jaunts on deep-sea fishing boats, a couple of yacht trips, and the growl of coastal ferries, its difficult to grasp all the sea-farer lingo. I had to look up salty terms like “fo’c’sl” and “binnacle,” and find out what it meant to “lay to” in The Wreck of the Mary Deare, written in 1956 by Hammond Innes, belongs to the genre of adventure and drama tales that crosses the gap between great literature and pure entertainment. For a land-lubber who’s only sea-faring experience is a few long off-shore jaunts on deep-sea fishing boats, a couple of yacht trips, and the growl of coastal ferries, its difficult to grasp all the sea-farer lingo. I had to look up salty terms like “fo’c’sl” and “binnacle,” and find out what it meant to “lay to” in a coal-fired steamer. I had to search out some place-names, learn some geography, look at the Minkies on a map of the English channel to discover they were nearly to France. Its standard fare for a good book set in reality at sea. It was like reading Erskine Childers' Riddle of the Sands all over again, keeping a dictionary at hand and my map app open. But this was just the part of reading that draws me in and saturates me in expertise. I find it tiring and dull to read authors with little experience in their subject matter, be that the sea-tides, or a life filled with love and pain. People who have never ridden out a channel gale or put a three-island steamer aground in a swell can’t write about such things in a way that brings a novice like me along in a convincing manner. I love books in which the author’s real-world clout can be felt as clearly as the tooth of the paper of the old pulpy page. Books written from simple second-hand hearsay, from a lack of real-life experience, or from imaginations of how things ought to be usually gleaned from other books, usually fall short. They strike me as watered-down soup and are thin as the paper of the page. Innes does not disappoint, he writes what he knows. The reader can feel the experience of a man who’s loved, lived, won, lost, risked, wrangled, and even lived through a few gales. But it is the author's insight into the drive of a man’s inward desperation that elevates the tale from mere sea-bravado to a story of making-right at all cost. Gideon S. Patch, captain of the ill-fated cargo steamer Mary Deare, becomes the driving force of the book. Told and played out against the cautiously-adventurous narrator, salvage man John Sands, the tale puts these two strangers together and ties them up in a mysterious relationship through which Patch seeks his personal redemption. Patch has a patchy past, and it is dredged up with every turn of the tide (see what I did there?). Caught up in a mystery that gradually exposes a conspiracy, we must unravel the web along with our two seamen. The story takes us in three acts from the sea, to the court room, to the sea again. In each chapter we gain entry into the mind of man pushed to the limit of mental and physical endurance, laid along side the mind of another man driven by compassion and the obligation to do right. Those men, set against the odds, overcome the evil intentions of some very bad souls, the cold self-interests of insurance brokers, the preconceptions of a court and watching public, and the impersonal harshness of nature. It is a stirring drama that delivers rich people who are deeply personal. It is not a flat tale of bearded men in cableknit sweaters shaking fists at the mean old sea. Innes avoids that cheap crutch of lesser writers by keeping the language free from crass obscenities. Though perhaps a product of his time, this is a refreshing restrain common to the era when cussing was still considered the character flaw that it is. Where the grit of foul-minded men must come to the forefront of the tale, it is skillfully handled without dipping into the easy fallback of mindless profanity. The very few uses of swearing and oaths then come with much greater value and a powerful punch. I truly appreciate this restraint. I am of the strong opinion, despite what the post-post-modern notions say, that it does not make a story “more real” or more authentic simply because it includes the lowest kind of crass language. If such characters cannot be separated from such unintelligent blather, they aren’t compelling characters at all. Profanity-laden characters generally turn out to be caricatures of the common masses of common people who follow each other in common pursuit of common cultural foibles, all the while thinking they are ‘more real’ because they pepper their speech with the witless profane. And that’s all too common. The book is very British in its tone. It captures the mid-twentieth century mentality of manner and form, though not the stuffy kind. It reminded me of my British family, my mother and her half of my family tree being post-war transplants to the states. Lowbrow dialect, straight from the Southampton wharf, is used when thuggish brutes make their threats and imposing intentions known, and it provides the spice where the profane would undermine reality and flatten the villain. We also get a glimpse of such setting-rich details like the proper-like, gentlemanly, slightly-disinterested, thumbs-in-vest-pockets air of a court staff getting on with the day’s business of ruining a man's life. It was crafted with an old-world richness, but just enough to season the tale, not enough to be forced and clunky. The story was richly rewarding. I did not expect to be so moved by the quick wrap up at the end, for the hopelessness of the inhuman plight carried on until the unread pages were becoming alarmingly few. But, delightfully, as the narrative closed out from dozens of grueling pages of deathly tension and perseverance through the most awful despair, the resolution of the drama was gratifying, right and good. I almost wanted to cheer. If you are looking for a good tale of intrigue, mystery and adventure that does not lay on the backs of flat characters, this tale will satisfy. I read a crusty old Permabook paperback edition published in 1957, the fourth version of the year-old book. It held up, and I chose it for the illustration on the cover. Don't let the poorly rendered covers of various editions sway your opinion, nor the cheesy photos lifted from the film-adaptation, which feature Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston in the lead roles. The book was popular, and for good reason. Popular books too often get wrapped in lousy, eye-catching covers of graphic gore and visual hype, but this book out-performs the 50's commercial artists, thankfully. It is a great read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    AndrewP

    Hammond Innes, along with Alistair Maclean, was one of the early action adventure writers from the 80's and 90's. Way back then I read several of his novels and always enjoyed them. Returning to one of his books was like a trip down memory lane. Like all shorter books of the period this one got straight into the action, had a bit of a lull in the middle and then an exciting ending. Also in keeping with this period, it's not part of a series or anything. Just a stand alone of around 200 pages. If Hammond Innes, along with Alistair Maclean, was one of the early action adventure writers from the 80's and 90's. Way back then I read several of his novels and always enjoyed them. Returning to one of his books was like a trip down memory lane. Like all shorter books of the period this one got straight into the action, had a bit of a lull in the middle and then an exciting ending. Also in keeping with this period, it's not part of a series or anything. Just a stand alone of around 200 pages. If you like sea going adventures then this one is worth the read. If you discount the fact that nobody has cell phones, then it doesn't seem that dated. (I guess coal burning ships are a thing of the past too.)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Simon Mcleish

    Originally published on my blog here in October 2000. An early Hammond Innes - maybe even his first - thriller, The Wreck of the Mary Deare is evocative of the seafaring life which is central to so many of his novels. It begins in the small boat Sea Witch, crossing the Channel to be refitted as a salvage vessel. Suddenly, out of the dark, stormy sea, they are almost run down by a far larger, apparently abandoned, ship, the Mary Deare. Meeting up with it again later (surely an unlikely coincidence Originally published on my blog here in October 2000. An early Hammond Innes - maybe even his first - thriller, The Wreck of the Mary Deare is evocative of the seafaring life which is central to so many of his novels. It begins in the small boat Sea Witch, crossing the Channel to be refitted as a salvage vessel. Suddenly, out of the dark, stormy sea, they are almost run down by a far larger, apparently abandoned, ship, the Mary Deare. Meeting up with it again later (surely an unlikely coincidence), the co-owner of the Sea Witch and narrator of the novel boards her, and finds only one man aboard, its captain, who insists that they run the ship aground on rocks to the south of the Channel Islands. The reason for this becomes clear in the second part of the novel, at an enquiry into the ship's fate in which it begins to look as though the Mary Deare was intended to sink supposedly carrying a valuable cargo that had been transferred elsewhere, for the purposes of a fraudulent insurance claim by the ship's owners. This middle section is distinctly unconvincing, the court simply swallowing the flimsy statements of the shipping company's lawyers. The final section amounts to a race to return to the ship, to either reveal or destroy the evidence of the fraud, and this too is rather unlikely - would it really be permitted for the interested parties in the case to reboard the ship with no other witnesses? Occasionally chillingly atmospheric - the Marie Celeste-like first appearance of the Mary Deare is the best scene in the novel by far - The Wreck of the Mary Deare is generally slackly put together. The plot is stretched to far to allow Innes to fit in more action scenes; these may be exciting, but are not good enough to excuse or hide the novel's problems. In 2010, I added the following comment: Re-working this review for the blog, I checked on Fantastic Fiction. Far from being Innes' first thriller, it is his twentieth, published twenty years after the first, Air Disaster.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    When John Sands, captain of the Seawitch and part-owner of a salvage company, sees the wreck of a large freighter that almost ran them down, he takes the opportunity to investigate: a ship abandoned with engines going full ahead and no radio plea for help is far from usual. He gets far more than he bargained for. What happened to the Mary Deare? And what's the truth of the matter? The first officer's story is unbelievable, but the alternative is horrific. In this enthralling maritime adventure, I When John Sands, captain of the Seawitch and part-owner of a salvage company, sees the wreck of a large freighter that almost ran them down, he takes the opportunity to investigate: a ship abandoned with engines going full ahead and no radio plea for help is far from usual. He gets far more than he bargained for. What happened to the Mary Deare? And what's the truth of the matter? The first officer's story is unbelievable, but the alternative is horrific. In this enthralling maritime adventure, Innes captures your imagination with his incredibly vivid descriptions, and the ruthless desperation of the men involved. It's obvious Innes was an experienced sailor, and had a great love for the sea. His passion is reflected in every page, and does more for the characters than his technical skill. Disclaimer: I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Riveting tale of a rusty old ship, captained by a man unwilling to let his command be spoiled by abandonment of his crew during a suspicious fire. A salvage captain of another ship comes on board the Mary Deare to see why this seemingly unmanned ship nearly rammed his ship the night before. The two ship's captains begin a friendship that starts with saving the ship they are now trapped on together. Finally off the ship, now they are in a courtroom to determine the causes of all the disasters and Riveting tale of a rusty old ship, captained by a man unwilling to let his command be spoiled by abandonment of his crew during a suspicious fire. A salvage captain of another ship comes on board the Mary Deare to see why this seemingly unmanned ship nearly rammed his ship the night before. The two ship's captains begin a friendship that starts with saving the ship they are now trapped on together. Finally off the ship, now they are in a courtroom to determine the causes of all the disasters and deaths on board this jinxed (?) ship.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sam Thursfield

    I pretty much enjoy any story that mixes up hard times with a steam engine with a pressure gauge pushing into the red. The dark, creepy environment of a deserted cargo ship is all there with every creak of the old wooden hull adding to the tension. There's also some more dull sections touching on English maritime law and the like but it's nice to have a break from the cold water of the ocean now and again. As thrillers go I'd say this is one of the best I've read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Bell

    I happened upon this 1956 classic recently as I was cleaning out my father-in-law's library. The mysterious wreck of a freighter results in a nail-biting mystery that continues to unfold with twists and turns until the very end. Excellent. Note: If you have seen the very mediocre 1959 movie of the same name, don't be deterred from trying the book. The movie made a mess of a great story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mats

    Got interesting in the last 30 pages or so (two men fighting the cold and the merciless sea) but that was a couple of hundred of pages too late. This was supposed to be an adventure novel slash courtroom drama, but it lacked adventure and drama. A dictionary with nautical terms is also a must if you don't want to get lost at sea with Innes. He knows his ships and dangerous waters and that's worth two stars.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel

    Having read this novel, the only piece of "Nautical Fiction" I have ever read, I am now in a position to state, unequivocally, that so-called "Nautical Fiction" is responsible for 1/3 of all the uses of the apostrophe in the English language. N.B.: writing "for'ard" instead of "forward" is like replacing the mayo on your BLT with paste.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    I didn't get too far with this one when I first tried it some years back, but on impulse decided to have another go at it. The second time seems like the charm; even though I'm completely at sea when it comes to all the nautical terminology, this is an engrossing suspense/adventure yarn.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    I had a hard time following this one. I think you really need to be a sailor to appreciate what's going on. It seemed to just go on and on. I don't know if I will give this author another try or not.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Julian Walker

    A tense, gripping page-turner from the off. Tightly written drama on the high seas and in the courtroom. Cracking thriller of the old school.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Terry Watkins

    A fascinating mystery So unlike typical cozies and thrillers as to be unique. Gripping with good characterization. A look at a world that most of us will never see.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Eden Thompson

    From my book blog www.JetBlackDragonfly.blogspot.com For a long time I've been intrigued by this title (it was a film as well) and was happily surprised to find it is a dynamic sea adventure. Actually, I thought the title was The Mystery of the Mary Deare, which would also suit. Fate handed me a nice hardcover from 1956 complete with original dust jacket, and it was hard to put down. Paul Sands and his two buddies are sailing through a gale in the Channel Islands when they see a steam freighter co From my book blog www.JetBlackDragonfly.blogspot.com For a long time I've been intrigued by this title (it was a film as well) and was happily surprised to find it is a dynamic sea adventure. Actually, I thought the title was The Mystery of the Mary Deare, which would also suit. Fate handed me a nice hardcover from 1956 complete with original dust jacket, and it was hard to put down. Paul Sands and his two buddies are sailing through a gale in the Channel Islands when they see a steam freighter coming right towards them, no lights on and no one on the bridge. When Paul manages to board the Mary Deare, he finds the crew has abandoned her to the rough storm after a fire in the radio room and cargo holds. Exploring the ghost ship he meets acting Captain Gideon Patch, who answers few questions, but wants to save the ship. Paul helps him by stoking the engines, but they have taken on too much water, and they purposefully run the Mary Deare onto the rocky outcrop called The Minkies off the coast of France and escape in a life raft. When they get back to Southampton, there is a court inquiry to discover why the ship was targeted by accidents, what happened to the original captain, the owner of the ship (also on board) and the fate of Patch - answers which add up to sabotage. Paul continues to investigate with Patch and discovers the manifest cargo was not actually on board and it seems the Mary Deare was meant to be sunk. The story is told in three sections - the discovery of the ship, the inquiry, and then the all out attempt of Patch and Paul's crew to return to the wrecked ship to prove the facts of the mutiny, the missing cargo and restore Patch's reputation. It's an unbelievably harrowing journey in a night storm, with a boat chase and sinkings, lifeboats and sailors stranded with the tides coming in - and still the goal of beating the odds to reach the Mary Deare. I haven't read too many of these nautical adventures, but I can't see how they could have a more exciting situation or outcome than this tense and page turning tale. The stormy sea was unrelenting, and you could really feel the peril of the men as they attacked it, were stranded in it, and some to succumb to it. I enjoyed this as much as Hammond Innes other novel I just read, The Lonely Skier. Time to look up more of his exciting tales. This was the basis for a 1959 movie starring Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston, which I had to watch after reading the novel. Like many transitions this was streamlined, but surprisingly faithful to the book. There are only two female characters in this manly adventure, and the film changed one female ship owner to a male role, and the captain's daughter - a bitter face of vengeance in the novel - is turned into a lovely and clever ally. You can stream the film for free online. So happy to have found another genuine adventure. If you like the sea, boats, rough men, sabotage, mutiny, explosives, mystery, ships crashing into each other, honour, heroism - all with a dash of justice, I highly recommend The Wreck of the Mary Deare. It's an enduring, classic adventure story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Will

    "The door of the charthouse slammed back to give me a glimpse of the lit saloon and against it loomed Mike Duncan's oilskin-padded bulk, holding a steaming mug in either hand. The door slammed to again, shutting out the lit world below, and the darkness and the sea crowded in again. 'Soup?' Mike's cheerful, freckled face appeared abruptly out of the night, hanging disembodied in the light from the binnacle. He smiled at me from the folds of his balaclava as he handed me a mug. 'Nice and fresh up "The door of the charthouse slammed back to give me a glimpse of the lit saloon and against it loomed Mike Duncan's oilskin-padded bulk, holding a steaming mug in either hand. The door slammed to again, shutting out the lit world below, and the darkness and the sea crowded in again. 'Soup?' Mike's cheerful, freckled face appeared abruptly out of the night, hanging disembodied in the light from the binnacle. He smiled at me from the folds of his balaclava as he handed me a mug. 'Nice and fresh up here after the galley,' he said. And then the smile was wiped from his face. 'What the hell's that?' He was staring past my left shoulder, staring at something astern of us on the port quarter. 'Can't be the moon, can it?' I swung round. A cold, green translucence showed at the edge of visibility, a sort of spectral light that made me catch my breath in sudden panic with all the old seamen's tales of weird and frightful things seen at sea rushing through my mind. The light grew steadily brighter, phosphorescent and unearthly - a ghastly brilliance like a bloated glow-worm. And then suddenly it condensed and hardened into a green pin-point, and I yelled at Mike: 'The Aldis - quick!' It was the starboard navigation light of a big steamer, and it was bearing straight down on us. Her deck lights were appearing now, misted and yellow; and gently, like the muffled beat of a tom-tom, the sound of her engines reached out to us in a low, pulsating throb. The beam of the Aldis lamp stabbed the night, blinding us with the reflected glare from a thick blanket of mist that engulfed us. It was a sea mist that had crept up on me in the dark without my knowing it. The white of a bow wave showed dimly in the brilliance, and then the shadowy outline of the bows themselves took shape. In an instant I could see the whole for'ard half of the ship. It was like a ghost ship emerging out of the mist, and the blunt bows were already towering over us as I swung the wheel. It seemed an age that I watched Sea Witch turn, waiting for the jib to fill on the other tack and bring her head round, and all the time I could hear the surge of that bow wave coming nearer. 'She's going to hit us! Christ! She's going to hit us!' I can still hear Mike's cry, high and strident in the night. He was blinking the Aldis, directing the beam straight at her bridge. The whole superstructure was lit up, the light reflecting back in flashes from the glass windows. And the towering mass of the steamer kept on coming, thundering down on us at a good eight knots without a check, without any alteration of course."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Fred

    One night, three men on a large sailboat are nearly plowed under by a runaway freighter that, they saw, had no one manning the wheel in the freighter’s pilothouse. The next day, they find the same freighter, unpowered and drifting. As the three were salvagers, one man (John Sands) managed to get on board the freighter before a storm separated the two ships. Searching the freighter, Sands finds only one man aboard. He is exhausted, disheveled, half-crazed and nearly incoherent. Who is that man? W One night, three men on a large sailboat are nearly plowed under by a runaway freighter that, they saw, had no one manning the wheel in the freighter’s pilothouse. The next day, they find the same freighter, unpowered and drifting. As the three were salvagers, one man (John Sands) managed to get on board the freighter before a storm separated the two ships. Searching the freighter, Sands finds only one man aboard. He is exhausted, disheveled, half-crazed and nearly incoherent. Who is that man? Why is he the only one of board? That’s the mystery to be solved. But the book is not just a mystery. It’s also a book of the sea as the wind, the waves, the tides, the rocks and the shoals all play major parts in the story. Indeed, the major “characters” in this book are John Sands, the freighter “Mary Deare”, the freighter’s captain and the sea itself. The more interested you are in nautically-themed adventures, the more you will enjoy the story. This classic felt a bit dated. There were a few ethnic slurs associated with Orientals that, though used casually rather than mean-spiritedly, sounded jarring to me in this day and age. And, in today’s interconnected and GPS-navigable world, the sense of isolation sailing on wind-tossed seas is certainly of another era.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Grace Harwood

    I wasn't at all sure about this book at first. I think what put me off it is that it is written in the first person, which somehow didn't sit quite right with the tone of the book at first. Also, it reads as a bit dated (but then it was written during the 50s). However, I soon got into the swing of it and I've got to say, this is highly addictive. The story commences with Sands, a man who has just started a shipwreck salvage firm, trying to sail a wrecked boat across the English channel in a gal I wasn't at all sure about this book at first. I think what put me off it is that it is written in the first person, which somehow didn't sit quite right with the tone of the book at first. Also, it reads as a bit dated (but then it was written during the 50s). However, I soon got into the swing of it and I've got to say, this is highly addictive. The story commences with Sands, a man who has just started a shipwreck salvage firm, trying to sail a wrecked boat across the English channel in a gale. Whilst there, he is nearly run down by a seemingly abandoned steamer ship, the Mary Deare. Climbing on board (imagine the salvage on it!) he finds the half-deranged Captain Patch desperately trying to keep the ship afloat, alone. There then follows the story of the Mary Deare - how she came to be abandoned by her crew and why Patch is so desperate to save her. Part nautical yarn, part court-room drama, I was utterly swept up in the story once I got the feel of the tone of the writing. I don't know as I'd actively go out and seek to read any more of this author's work, but this is compelling stuff and I binge-read it in 2 hours on a train to London.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Al

    An excellent sea adventure story by a master of the genre. John Sands and his partner, on their sailboat near the Channel Islands, are nearly run over by a tramp freighter and soon encounter it drifting with no one aboard but a mysterious and disturbed man, Gideon Patch, who claims to be its captain. The story unfolds as Sands becomes more involved with the uncommunicative but intense Patch and his seemingly Quixotic quest to save the Mary Deare and clear his own name. Believing in Patch, but wi An excellent sea adventure story by a master of the genre. John Sands and his partner, on their sailboat near the Channel Islands, are nearly run over by a tramp freighter and soon encounter it drifting with no one aboard but a mysterious and disturbed man, Gideon Patch, who claims to be its captain. The story unfolds as Sands becomes more involved with the uncommunicative but intense Patch and his seemingly Quixotic quest to save the Mary Deare and clear his own name. Believing in Patch, but without much hard evidence, the impressionable, decent Sands is drawn into Patch's crusade, risking not only his own boat but his life as well. It's a stirring tale; I must admit I became irritated with Patch's continued irrational refusal to provide Sands with the information which would justify his involvement, but I guess that's Innes's way of heightening the suspense. Despite that annoyance, for those who like exciting sea stories, this is a very good one. Recommended.

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