The Skipper’s Dog Called Stalin (A Harry Gilmour Novel)

Written by David Black
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

The unsinkable Harry Gilmour is off on a new adventure in the turbulent spring of 1941. Gilmour, a west-coast Scot, is most disoriented when he’s appointed British Navy Liaison Officer aboard a Free French submarine. The Radegonde’s voyage ranges from Scotland to Nova Scotia and on to Martinique, under the command of Gil Syvret, an unconventional skipper who’s a gift to young Harry’s continuing education.

The French navy presents a different style that includes a chef de cuisine, a vat of wine, debates about Voltaire, and the affable dog named Stalin, who does not bark but “chats” (and likes his digestive biscuits buttered). Despite their alliance, Harry is put in his place as an outsider until the sub’s minelayer gets a string of its deadly explosives stuck and it falls to Harry to attempt a rescue. Then, both trust and relationships begin to deepen. After a leave in Scotland that finds Harry reeling from conflict with his pacifist father and the advances and rejections of two girlfriends, he’s back on board. The mission to Martinique leads to a confrontation with both the Vichy governor there and a Nazi-leaning ship that pits Frenchmen against Frenchmen, with Harry in the middle.

This is another excellent outing on the high seas. Well-drawn personalities, exciting action sequences, and rich atmosphere, leavened with welcome humor, make The Skipper’s Dog’s Called Stalin an excellent addition to a very promising series.