A former ship captain, P.T. Deutermann (The Last Man) brings a level of authenticity that not many authors can match to his rousing World War II thrillers. The Last Paladin sets the bar even higher. The USS Holland (DE-202) is a North Atlantic fleet destroyer escort specializing in anti-submarine warfare that receives transfer orders to the Pacific in 1944. The Holland's commanding officer (or CO) is Mariano deTomasi, a second-generation American of Sicilian heritage, who has a score to settle with the Japanese for the loss of his men at Pearl Harbor in 1941. His executive officer, Ephraim Edmonds Enright (known to all as "Eeep"), is the second-in-command and, aboard the ship, provides the brains to the CO's brawn.
Receiving a chilly reception from arrogant PacFleet officers, the crew of the Holland is sent off to investigate the possible existence of a Japanese submarine "picket line" a thousand miles long, positioned to sink every American aircraft carrier and destroyer that stumbles across its path. PacFleet does not expect much from Holland but is forced to eat crow when the battle-hardened Atlantic Fleet ship sinks six Japanese subs in 12 days' time. In fact, the story is based upon the real-life exploits of the USS England, which achieved this unparalleled feat. The combat scenes are top-notch and as authentic as they come, as are the more brutal aspects of warfare on the high seas. Readers of World War II thrillers will find Deutermann a trusted and skilled storyteller with lean prose and likable, uncomplicated characters. The Last Paladin does not disappoint. --Peggy Kurkowski, book reviewer and copywriter in Denver