P.T. Deutermann. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-07807-0
Deutermann's experience as a U.S. Navy captain informs this engrossing novel set in the Pacific theater during WWII. Capt. Harmon "Sluff" Wolf commands the USS John B. King, "a brand-new, 2,100-ton Fletcher-class destroyer." The son of a Chippewa father and an Irish mother whose family emigrated to the U.S. from Canada, he received the nickname Sluff (for "short little ugly fat fucker") at the Naval Academy. Given the prejudice of the day, his rise in the formal white-gloved ranks of the Navy is all the more impressive. While patrolling the waters off Guadalcanal in the J.B. King, he develops new ways of fighting the enemy that save his ship and sink Japanese warships, but his superiors are slow to appreciate, much less adopt, his tactics. Sluff is stubborn and sticks to his guns, and in a series of night engagements he proves his worth and earns a promotion to commodore. Deutermann (Pacific Glory) handles the human-interest aspects well, but it's his battle sequences on the high seas that stand out. Fans of military action thrillers will race through the pages and finish the book wanting more. Agent: Nick Ellison, Nick Ellison Agency. (Aug.)
Deutermann, P. T. (Author)
Aug 2016. 304 p. St. Martin's, hardcover, $26.99. (9781250078070). e-book, $12.99. (9781250091758). In the pre-WWII U.S. Navy, promotion was glacially slow, usually coming only through death or retirement. So, Harmon “Sluff” Wolf, USNA ’26, only gets his first command in 1942, in the desperate early days of the naval war in the Solomon Islands. Sluff, whose nickname is a wonderfully vulgar acronym he coined about his appearance, is an unlikely naval officer. He’s a Native American in a navy that limits men of color to menial assignments. But Admiral William “Bull” Halsey has been ordered to defeat the Japanese juggernaut that has inflicted crushing defeats on his ships and threatens the marines on Guadalcanal, and he gambles on Sluff’s tactical intelligence, willingness to innovate, and bellicosity. Deutermann, who usually writes solid thrillers, once commanded a destroyer. His experience and his deep knowledge of WWII naval warfare illuminate every page. Japan’s naval superiority immediately after Pearl Harbor—and the weakness of the U.S.—is forcefully portrayed. Sluff is a fascinating character, and The Commodore is top-shelf naval adventure.