World Book Day – Why Douglas Reeman keeps me turning the page…
March 3, 2016 / Kris Davies
The high seas can be a harsh and merciless environment. One minute they can seem calm and friendly even inviting, the next a raging maelstrom of danger and imminent death. This world is one which the novels of Douglas Reeman portray so well. He is a prolific author of tales of sea, mostly set in the world wars and always including dangers seemingly lurking behind every wave.
In some ways Reeman’s novels follow a regular pattern. The main character is usually a Royal Navy officer psychologically damaged by past experiences, such as the loss of a previous command, who takes up on a new ship or submarine. He’ll meet a young woman who’ll befriend him and help him heal his tortured soul throughout the story. The novel will usually end in a large set-piece where the main threat (and demons) throughout the story, such as a German battleship and/or self-doubt, will finally be faced. It’s a pattern that is used by many of his stories but its written so well you don’t really mind.
His writing style is engaging and rich, the best novelists and novels create a world that is easily imagined as you read it and as you read Reeman’s novels you can easily imagine the terror of the engine room stokers fearing a torpedo crashing through the hull any minute or the cold and tension of the night watch looking out for signs of the enemy before it’s too late. It’s a world I will (hopefully!) never actually live in myself but with these novels I can feel that I’m there.