The Last Paladin (P. T. Deutermann WWII Novels)

Written by P. T. Deutermann
Review by Thomas j. Howley

Lieutenant Commander Mariano deTomasi is the commanding officer of the U.S. Navy Destroyer Escort USS Holland (DE-202). Lieutenant Edmond Enright is his executive officer (XO), or second-in-command. They are quite different in background and temperament, yet they complement each other well and get along nicely. Their ship has just been reassigned from the Atlantic, where they have been hunting German U-boats, to join the much larger U.S. Pacific Fleet. They are not met with much respect, as the Pacific command feels the real and most dangerous naval action has been against the Japanese.

With the unspoken assumption that it would take too long and not be worth the effort to train and integrate DE-202 and her crew in Pacific operations, they are sent off into remote areas to search for Japanese subs. But the commander and his XO take their “out of the way” mission seriously and use their Atlantic experience and emerging technical innovations to achieve great and completely unexpected successes. Before long, their victories can no longer be ignored, and the High Command is taking positive interest.

Based on a true story, this outstanding book is told from the separate perspectives of the captain and the XO. Their different views of the same events further increase the reader’s interest. This superlative novel is a perfect example of capturing the emotions and ambience in times of genuine historical world-shaking significance. Complicated technical and tactical details are portrayed in a manner that translates well and easily for the lay reader. The account of a small ship in a furious typhoon is fascinating, and the ending reveals a surprise example of strategic deception. Superb in every aspect, and strongly recommended.