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The Hunt for the Peggy C
Bruce Bortz, editor (anthology)
This gripping novel full of action and suspense introduces us to Captain Jake Rogers, a hardened smuggler transporting contraband through the U-boat infested waters of the North Atlantic in the beginning phases of World War II. Rumored to have killed someone in America before beginning his career at sea, he takes on cargo few other captains would be willing to carry—if the price is right. But after witnessing the oppression of Jews in Amsterdam, Rogers agrees to take on the most dangerous cargo he’s ever transported: a Jewish family fleeing Nazi persecution. Pursued by Oberleutnant Viktor Brauer, a brutal U-boat captain who will stop at nothing to send Rogers and his crew to the bottom of the ocean, the normally aloof Rogers finds himself drawn in by the family’s warmth and faith, and is increasingly willing to do whatever it takes to get them to safety—even sacrificing his own ship to defeat the indefatigable Brauer. A thrilling, beautifully written story of adventure and compassion in the time of an unforgiving European world war, The Hunt for The Peggy C not only creates a fascinating, believable, and visual world of its own, but keeps readers on the edge of their seats from page one through the shocking, unpredictable end. Part Tom Clancy and part Kristen Hannah, with a dash of C.S. Forrester thrown in, The Hunt for the Peggy C will appeal to men and women of all ages. Unlike most World War II novels, it is a wonderful love story wrapped inside an action adventure. A page-turner from its opening line, it combines the intense war atmosphere of Das Boot with the tenderness and heroism of Casablanca. In fact, The Peggy C is told so vividly readers will wonder whether they are reading a novel or watching a movie. Understandably, The Peggy C has won unanimous praise from critics, authors, and everyday readers, who call it "fantastic," "awesome," "a tour de force of historical research," "a must read," and "reminiscent of The Nightingale." It’s already an award-winner, too. Appearing on the Hemingway Book Awards Short List, Peggy C was also a Clive Cussler Adventure Writers Competition semifinalist.
Diving into an intriguing plot with complex characters and urgent human stakes, this maritime World War II thriller from Miller immediately captivates. Tenacious Captain Rogers, an American smuggler and the leader of a well-rounded and engaging cast, reveals a strong moral compass early on despite inhabiting a world of gray—and the official American position of neutrality. As the war rages around him, Rogers, shaken by the atrocities he’s witnessed, risks it all by electing to transport the most contraband of cargo, a Jewish family desperate to escape Nazi-occupied Amsterdam and reach Palestine. Rogers and the crew of tramp steamer Peggy C face relentless danger on the North Atlantic, starting with mines and German U-boats, enough to test even the quick problem-solving of his likable crew. Amid the tension and immersive historical detail, a surprising romance flourishes, only making the risks more frightening.

The mechanics of the ship, art of navigation, and nuances of naval warfare, all clearly and convincingly described, will fascinate even landlubbers. Just as artfully spun is the wisdom offered by a rabbi Rogers is smuggling, his teachings and advice illuminating not only to his family but to Rogers and the crew as well. The dynamic between the rabbi and Rogers culminates in an intriguing, oddly sophisticated balance. Meanwhile, a U-boat captained by the notorious Viktor Brauer—so fearsome that Rogers at first insists he’s an invention of British propaganda—is in pursuit, with Miller doing memorable work, in point-of-view chapters, depicting this antagonist and a crew suffering from the restless “tin can disease” caused by extended confinement.

Miller deftly introduces the mates on the Peggy C, sharing intriguing facts about their backgrounds and painting a clear picture of each man’s appearance and demeanor, with each character’s purpose evolving over the course of the tale. The overlapping lives, not only physically close, and their daring mission elevate this winning high seas adventure.

Takeaway: This superior maritime thriller finds an American captain smuggling Jewish refugees as Nazis prowl.

Great for fans of: Nicholas Monsarrat’s The Cruel Sea, Alistair MacLean’s HMS Ulysses.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A