JACK HIGGINS – Storm Warning. Collins, UK, hardcover, 1976. Henry Holt & Co., US, hardcover, 1976. Bantam, US, paperback, 1977.

   Jack Higgins (Henry Patterson) has written more than thirty crime novels since 1959, as Harry Patterson, Martin Fallon, Hugh Marlowe , James Graham, and Higgins. It was only with the publication of The Eagle Has Landed (1975), however, that he hit the big time. Storm Warning has several things in common with that excellent book and is, in my opinion,, even more exciting.

   Both books take place during World War II, with a considerable part of the action set in Great Britain. Each has a German as a sympathetic protagonist, each of whom spent time in England as a child (and therefore speaks the language well), and each man gains our sympathy through the opposition and antagonism of an obnoxious Englishman. Finally each is courageous, honorable, and ultimately heroic.

   That said, these are two quite different books. Eagle is a Day of the Jackal-type story about an attempt to assassinate Churchill. Storm Warning centers on the attempt of a group of German seamen to sail a nineteenth century sailing ship, The Deutschland, home to Germany from Brazil to be with friends and family as the war reaches its inevitable climax.

   Besides the excellent scenes aboard the ship, Higgins shows that he is a master craftsman by shifting points of view among several groups of people: the crew and passengers of The Deutschland (including five nuns); the people of the island of Fhada, in the Outer Hebrides, whose lifeboat crew plays an important role; and the four leading characters. These are American Admiral Carey Reeve, recuperating from wartime injuries on Fhada while longing to return to action; his niece, Dr. Janet Munro; Lieutenant Harry Jago, running a messenger service between the islands as a respite from the action; and Paul Gericke, the German war ace.

   Higgins maneuvers his large cast until the fantastic storm of the title brings them all together off Fhada in a desperate, selfless and heroic rescue mission where all sides work together to save lives. Storm Warning is a thrilling book and a sure bet as a movie. Don’t miss it.

–Reprinted with permission from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 1, No. 2, March 1977.

Editorial Update: From Wikipedia “In January 1977 it was announced that Columbia had bought the film rights and Peter Guber would produce a movie version. However no film resulted.”