Dark Ocean

Dark Ocean ISBN: 9780992902841, Seaward Publishing, an e-book by Nick Elliott.

Angus McKinnon is a seasoned Marine investigator who, although working independently, semi-officially works for Alastair Marshall’s CMM investigative company based in Greece. Angus is in Hong Kong investigating a situation with respect to the Lady Monteith, a ship being used by the Japanese and sunk by an allied submarine during WW II. The vessel reportedly was carrying a huge amount of gold and Sinclair Buchan, the original owner is interested in its reclamation. Angus receives a call that Alastair has died suddenly and so must return to Greece. There he discovers that his employer/mentor/friend actually has been murdered apparently after escaping from the Toyama Maru, a small Japanese ship. He again meets Clair Scott, the British Intelligence agent he had rescued several years before when she had been abducted during a Russian entanglement. She verifies his collateral knowledge that Marshall had worked for years with British Naval Intelligence since merged with the Ministry of Defense Intelligence Department. Together they were concerned about information that some of the radical imperialistic Japanese groups were more than just bugle blowing, mega-noisy, people parading the streets. Angus, somewhat reluctantly agrees to investigate for them while pursuing his on-going process with respect to the Lady Monteith. From this point, his life becomes filled with frenetic activity. He discovers that one Japanese group in particular, the Genyosha or Dark Ocean, has ties to a Geneva based study group and that combined, their objective seems to be much more extensive than previously would have been surmised. His job then, is to discern how extensive it is and exactly how it is to be implemented and he must accomplish this feat by gaining the information piece by piece and assembling it. The story proceeds at breakneck speed as it follows his activities as he approaches this herculean task with unexpected help from unlikely organizations who cooperate because it is a necessity for the good of all. Unfortunately for Angus and everyone close to him, the activity is one fraught with constant danger and the imminent threat of death.

Discussion: To quote from this reader’s review of the directly preceding novel ‘The Sea of Gold’: “… the complicated plot and constantly changing world locations may not be to everyone’s liking but for the more sophisticated reader the author has quite masterfully assembled these perhaps somewhat disparate elements into an engrossing story that is quite difficult to put down.” This statement again applies but one somewhat disconcerting feature must be mentioned that does not seem to be apparent in the preceding volume. Here, Angus’ serendipitous survival repeatedly depends on a sizeable amount of good fortune, karma, or whatever. His Extra Sensory Perceptive abilities (perhaps more frequently referred to as instincts or ‘6th sense’) seem somehow to be lagging with respect to: recognition of danger producing situations, places and/or individuals; loss of, or slowed, ability when quick thought/action required; or perhaps he never had developed these necessities to the extent required for individuals in his present ‘secret agent line of endeavor’. This latter perhaps is the best explanation as Angus himself recognizes. He is an excellent Marine Investigative Agent but never thought about, or was not particularly enamored of being, a clandestine field agent, more vernacularly referred to as a ‘spy or spook’.

Conclusion: A fast paced international thriller with overtones in accord with today’s headlines and a somewhat reluctant but still very efficient, protagonist who appears to be only partly temperamentally equipped for this ‘new’ job.

4* Fast paced international thriller with a slightly reluctant protagonist


PRACTICAL TIPS to Live or Travel in CHINA

PRACTICAL TIPS to Live or Travel in CHINA, an e-book by Ani Right.

Following a Legal & Disclaimer section, the author sets forth a very extensive Table of Contents of material that quite literally covers all aspects of preparing to travel and/or move to, as well as to leave, China. Much of the preparatory material is routine but such items as useful apps to download and Sim cards in China are particularly thoughtful, as is the idea of keeping your hotel room card with you whenever you go out. The name/address are on the card and useful for a taxi or other to have directions so you can get back in case you do not encounter English speaking persons. Parenthetically this is a practical suggestion for any foreign country, and her suggestion to have at least a minimal ability to understand/speak the language is most practical. The rest of the book is devoted to quite extensive descriptions of the principle airports, cities, top hotels, best budget hotels, special hotels, motels and prominent places to see, all with distances from one point to another. Comparative bus, taxi, bikes, scooters, rental cars, high-speed trains, and air fares, time in route, and more also are provided. Also presented are activities in which to indulge that include explanations if new and/or different. Top western, Chinese and special restaurants of note, spas, housing, hiring of house employees/babysitters and still more, all with attendant costs and how best to acquire them are described at length. Especially important dos and don’ts of social activities are thoughtfully explained, as are the availability of organic food, home delivery, where to shop for what, scams of which to be wary, smoking and even a section detailing what to expect of toilets in China.

Conclusion: This book is a treasure trove of information that the prospective traveler definitely should read thoroughly before leaving and be retained as a constant companion while in China. Parenthetically, it contains some fascinating nuggets of information for the casual reader, if he/she does not mind skipping through the pages of copious factual material.

5* Must read travel guide if China is your destination; nuggets for casual readers.