Book Review: “Deadly Straits” by R.E. McDermott

Rating: 5 WaterTowers

Readers:  This is my first “Guest” book reviewer!  Tom Alexander is a lifelong (truly he has known me ALL of my life) friend.  After high school Tom was accepted to, and attended, the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY.  While there he met….R.E. McDermott.   I thought Tom’s expertise in all things merchant marine would be best suited for a review of “Deadly Straits”….and he accepted the challenge!

Thank you, Tom, awesome review!!!   And thank you, Robert for writing such a great book!

Review by Tom Alexander, The Lightship Group, LLC

Don’t you just love to find something new?  Be in at the start of something?  Uncover a true gem hidden amongst your surroundings?

Well, with new author R.E. McDermott’s first book, “Deadly Straits”, here is an opportunity.

McDermott is one of those guys who had a career that, early on as a merchant mariner, gave him ample opportunity to read other peoples’ works; then later as a marine technical manager, required him to travel the waterfronts of the world, living and working, observing and experiencing…….one of those ”Someday, I’m gonna’ write a book” careers.  And then he did.

The result is nothing short of phenomenal.

A techno-thriller with all the juice…..well-defined characters hop-scotching through real-life exotic locales, experienced ship operations and technology, and moments hanging in the balance; all masterly blended into a believable plot of world-wide terror, guiltless killers with nefarious goals, suspense, untenable situations and ……..(read it!).

The main character of the book, Tom Dugan, is a marine engineer who operates, surveys, and repairs ships around the world.  He is unique in that he is a highly skilled and educated professional, but is not afraid to get his clothes and hands dirty….maybe even a little grease in his hair.  He is the type of person who can be relied upon for everything: from cajoling a pompous, sniffy bureaucrat, to organizing and supervising a shipyard’s work around the clock, and doing it himself if necessary.  Unlike many heroes of fiction, he is not a trained killer, or even black-ops.  His fortes are his knowledge, perception and guile; his ability to take action when and how he sees fit; and his capacity to absorb just about any abuse that comes his way.

The victims all have their own well-developed and unique personalities, adding depth and richness to the book; and the villains comprise a variety of fanatical no-gooders with no use for anyone or thing that does not promote their scheme, and ruthless acts for anyone who is in the way.

The plot is entirely possible and realistic, and it is here that McDermott’s background and knowledge shines through. We already know that terrorists have used aircraft as weapons of destruction, and we must only assume that they have studied the use of ocean going vessels similarly. We also know that the hi-jacking of unarmed merchant ships has become a commonplace occurrence nowadays.

As the name of the book implies, the “Deadly Straits” story is built around the very real scenario of terrorists gaining control of loaded ocean tankers and using them as weapons in straits, the pinch points in the world flow of ocean traffic. McDermott uses his knowledge of ship operations and design to devise terrorist plans that anyone familiar with ships knows are plausible….the scariest aspect of this book is that it is only fiction because it has not occurred yet, not because it is a fictitious premise.

Go out and get this book, and discover a brand new and thoroughly enjoyable talent on the literary scene! Read it, and if you are like me, you will find yourself anxiously awaiting the next appearance of Tom Dugan and company!

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