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Red Sky in Morning

by Patrick Culhane
(pseudonym of author Max Allan Collins)


Peter Maxwell is a Midwestern musician who enlisted in the U. S. Navy after Pearl Harbor. Because of his musical experience he is assigned to direct the Navy choir in San Diego, California. From the choir he organizes a quartet which call themselves "the Fantail Four." Peter is unhappy with his assignment. He didn't enlist to direct a choir. He wanted to see action.

When he sees a posting for the Liberty Hill Victory looking for four officers he persuades his friends to sign up with him. He becomes a junior officer on the Liberty Hill Victory which he learns is an ammunition ship with an African American crew and a racist captain. The ship's home port, San Francisco, is the scene of an explosion accidentally caused during loading ammunition. Then Maxwell is caught up in a potential mutiny by his crew. Finally they put out to sea only to be caught in a typhoon which threatens to sink the ship. The brutalized body of one of the officers is discovered, and with the assistance of black, ex-cop seaman, "Sarge" Washington, he must solve the murder. In the midst of being bombed by a Japanese Zero, which sinks the ship, they are able to find the murderer.

Red Sky in Morning gives the reader a glimpse into a racist period of our history and the treatment of the African Americans in the service. There is also a great love story between Maxwell and his wife, Kay, during their life in the Navy. There are a few exciting episodes with a typhoon and a Japanese Zero bombing.

This is a quick read, with a feeling of nostalgia for any reader of the War II generation.

The Book

August 2009
Historical Suspense / WW II / Navy
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The Reviewer

Barbara Buhrer
Reviewed 2009
© 2009