Gone to Sea in a Bucket

Written by David Black
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

A promising new series debuts with David Black’s first Harry Gilmour novel. It’s the beginning of World War II, and young Sub-lieutenant Gilmour, a west coast Scot, begins his career on a battleship.  But it’s a disastrous fit: English class warfare and bullying are alive and well.  Thanks to a decent fellow officer, Harry takes a course in celestial navigation that takes him onboard the first of two submarines, the HMS Pelorus.  There he faces the terror of a sinking.

At home on leave, Harry has a dedicated mother who helps navigate him through the shoals of two local girls out for his heart, and a distant, Great War-vet father who is furious that Harry has volunteered to serve. Harry’s next assignment is aboard the “Bucket” of the title:  the HMS Trebuchet, on a daring mission at a Soviet Union port north of Norway.

Top-notch, richly textured writing that switches from wry to heartfelt at just the right moments, an engaging, decent young hero, and heart-stopping tension all add up to: move over Hornblower and Jack Aubrey!