Friday, May 20, 2016

Book Review: Straits of Hell, by Taylor Anderson

The tenth novel in Taylor Anderson’s long-running Destroyermen Series, The Straits of Hell, finds our heroes of the time-lost USS Walker, commanded by Captain Matthew Reddy, and their humans and cat-like Lumurian allies plunged straight into the thick of the action.

There has been no rest since for Reddy and his companions since we saw them in the last book, Deadly Shores. (Danger: here be spoilers) Having just liberated the Lumurian ancestral home of Madagascar, the Allies find that taking it is one thing, holding on to it may be quite another as the reptilian Grik launch a major counterattack to retake the island. Similarly, on the eastern side of the Pacific, the question is whether the allies can hang onto their beachhead in South America, as the Holy Dominion throws everything at them, including the kitchen sink, to push them out.

Anderson of course, delivers in spades on action, plot, and dialogue. Minor quibbles about paragraph structure aside – you can see my previous post – the series continues to provide me with great enjoyment as a reader and also as someone who is trying to guess what might happen next.  Recently introduced allies are expanded on, while new, potentially powerful enemies are introduced, as well.  I salute Anderson’s plotting skills: all I can think is that on a wall in his writer’s garret, he must have a complete flow chart showing the path and of each character and plot point. 

One of the stars of the series: the USS Walker
As I have followed the series, one thing did occur to me: if Reddy and his friends are busily making steamships, rifles, pistols, torpedoes, submachine guns, radios, and aircraft, then why weren’t they making Gatling guns? Compared to a submachine gun, I think it would be a Gatling would be a relatively simple weapon to build (someone please correct me here, if I’m wrong).  I think I wasn’t the only to make this point, as Anderson does address the question – quite satisfactorily – here.

Obviously, I recommend this book – and if you have not started – the series, as well. The Destroyermen series continues to be a worthy addition to the alt-history genre. And when it’s done, I’ll miss it.

What’s Next?
Looking forward, next month I will review for you the latest instalment in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s Long Earth series, The Long Utopia.  In the next few months, I’ll also be reviewing Peter Tieryas’s “successor to The Man in the High Castle” (I didn’t write that – it was on the back cover of the book), United States of Japan.
Meanwhile, you can help out a poor unemployed writer by purchasing Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 and now The Key to My Heart, also $2.99 (all are free to preview). All books -- which are already on Smashword's premium distribution list -- are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Sony, Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.  Thanks.

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