Deadly Straits by R.E. McDermott

Deadly Straits (Tom Dugan, #1)Deadly Straits by R.E. McDermott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tom Dugan, the main character, is an expert on marine shipping and nautical matters in general. He takes a job with his friend Alex, a shipping magnate. Soon we learn that Alex is being extorted by a cabal of evildoers including Iranians, Chechens, and most formidably, a despicable German named Braun who has wormed his way into the company and has a violent thug ready to do imminent harm to Alex’s daughter. The rest of the plot is too complex to explain and I don’t want to provide any spoilers, but it involves a worldwide conspiracy that would affect global commerce disastrously.

Some aspects are terrific. The action scenes, and there are many, are pulse-pounding thrill rides and imaginative scenarios that could only come from an author who knows maritime matters inside and out. In this one sense the author lays legitimate claim to the title of successor to Tom Clancy. The book can also give the reader an education on geography and the importance to us all of the flow of oil and other goods through a few very critical straits. I listened to the Audible edition. The reader was outstanding, mastering perhaps a half dozen accents and doing a fine job of acting as well.

There were a few drawbacks, too, that one should be aware of. The number of characters and locales is huge and it is easy to lose track of who’s who. I wish I had started a spreadsheet at the beginning, but I was too lazy to start over and start writing it all down. I had trouble following the plot and remembering who was a good guy and who was a bad guy, especially since one of the CIA guys acts like a bad guy. Most disturbing to me, at least at first, was the amateurishly demonic way the bad guys were characterized. Every single one was a pedophile lusting after underage blond virgins, and of course several characters conveniently had underage daughters to serve as threat targets. All the bad guys kept shooting their own men in the head, too, once their usefulness was over. It must be hard to keep the cabal together with that kind of career advancement plan. It got to be so ludicrous that I literally began trying to predict when the next bad guy was going to get it in the head by his superior or fellow co-conspirator. The constant references to unspeakable acts on the young girls got to be a bit much, too, so if sadistic perversion upsets you, you may want to read actual Tom Clancy instead.

So for the real action fan, this book can be a great read. Don’t worry about the plot so much. Just enjoy the thrill ride in those scenes. For those seeking plausible characters and plot, there are better choices out there.

This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobookboom.

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