Convoy, by Dudley Pope – book review

by Peter on August 22, 2011

Convoy, Dudley PopeDudley Pope is primarily known for his excellent and very entertaining series of navy fiction books from the Napoleonic era, featuring Lord Nicolas Ramage. However, Pope also authored a number of non-fiction books, as well as a navy fiction series known as The Yorke series. The Yorke series is not nearly as well known as the Ramage series, probably due partly to the fact that it is a shorter series with fewer books. I think it may also be because the writing in the Yorke series is less even.

Convoy is a book in the Yorke series, set in World War II. The main protagonist is a Yorke – Lieutenant Ned Yorke of the Royal Navy. He is a sharp young fellow – only twenty-five years old, but already with a lot of naval experience.

In November 1942 Ned Yorke, a war hero, is recovering from his wounds. When he is called back into active duty, he finds himself transferred over to a new unit in Whitehall, an outfit called the Anti-Submarine Intelligence Unit (ASIU). There he is assigned an important but seeming impossible task: To find out how lone Nazi submarines can wreck havoc on Allied convoys by attacking from inside the convoys, despite the presence of a shield of Allied warships with ASDIC’s and other modern anti-sub equipment surrounding the convoys.

The Allies are losing more ships than they can build to German submarines, and it is imperative that the British find out how they can reduce the devastating losses. And they need the answers now. Yesterday, as a matter of fact.

Ned Yorke patiently goes through all the cases on submarine attacks from inside convoys, looking for patterns that may indicate how this has been achieved. When he finds a pattern that seems promising, he joins a Freetown-bound convoy to spy on a suspect neutral ship to see if he can prove his hypothesis. Only by wit and daring can he prove it and survive.

Convoy is a wonderful World War II navy fiction novel. It is very well written, has interesting descriptions of the military bureaucracy, as well as credible characters. The plot is very intriguing, quite compelling and suspenseful too. In many ways Convoy reads like a crime fiction novel or thriller. The conclusion may be a little farfetched from a realist point of view, but it is an excellent and exciting end to an historical fiction drama. I really enjoyed this book, it is great entertainment, and I strongly recommend it!

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