PASSAGE OF ARMS
By James Pattinson
Robert Hale - 2000
ISBN 0709066171 - Hardback
Reviewed by: Rachel Hyde, MyShelf.Com
UK Copy Only
Despite the historical look of the cover with its graceful tea clipper and oriental temple this is not a historical novel but a modern seafaring adventure of the old school. The W H Davies is a tramp ship, picking up cargoes and transporting them wherever they have to go. Daniel Gregg and his partner Frank Loder have been doing this for years and enjoying the free-and-easy life. While in the Far East one crewmember vanishes and the enigmatic Tommy Chan who has a few skills that are not necessarily those of a sailor takes his place. And what about the passenger Margarita Diaz with her mysterious bulging bag whom they pick up in Hong Kong?
Uzis, kalashnivkovs, banana republics, Vladivostok, piracy…here are the ingredients of the archetypal modern international thriller and Pattinson has a way with words that makes the story roll along. I found it all a bit bloodless though and could have done with a few more descriptions – most of the time they could have been anywhere. I wanted to smell the exotic Far East, feel the snow in Vladivostok and sample life aboard a small merchant vessel but it was all too brief. It ought to have been lively but it failed to come to life that left me with the feeling that I had enjoyed it but there was something missing.