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The Night Boat by Robert R. McCammon

The Night Boat (1980)

by Robert R. McCammon

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The Night Bat refers to a Nazi U-Boat that terrorized a small island near Jamaica. It would come in, destroy freighters, land based repair yards etc all in the name of war during WWII. In the prologue, the boat has just sunk a freighter when some sub chasers sneak up on the boat and it is forced into an emergency dive, leaving two crewmen outside. The ensuing battle "sinks" the U-Boat and covers it under a shelf of sand. Of the two crewmen topside, one dies that night, the other is captured by the Allies.

Fast forward to present day (which in this case is around 1990 since the book is quite old). David Moore is going deep sea diving looking for wreckage exposed by a recent storm. He is rewarded with a find but discovers it is a depth charge and accidentally sets it off, loosening the sand and freeing the U-Boat, which corks to the surface.

As it turns out, it is in immaculate shape and is towed into the boatyard on Coquina to await a decision. However, things start happening and deaths start to pile up. The remainder of the novel is the events happening over a weekend that puts at the center, David Moore, the constable known as Kip, a worker from the Jamaica heritage foundation flown in to look at the wreck and hopefully get a grant from the British museum known as Dr Jana Thornton, and the chief father of Caribville known as Cheyne. In various story threads they all fight against the undead crew of U-Boat 198 in an effort to save Coquina and tackle their own personal demons, of which all carry.

This was a decently paced story considering all monster stories need to have a slowish buildup before the monster reveal. Of course these particular monsters were once people, and they are not indestructible. Indeed, the author does a good job of explaining how they could come to be, how they could cease to be, and how they can be killed failing the previous method. No spoilers here, though.

I suppose the only thing that kept this from 5 stars was that it was rather short overall. Just 243 pages and that includes many blank pages due to new chapters. The penultimate battle also took place in 10 pages or less. And although I dont mind that there were no "where are they now" story threads, it did seem to end somewhat abruptly. In fact, the story overall seemed very cinematic, which to its credit made it enjoyable. One other tiny detail that did not quite do it for me was the lack of research in the accuracy of events surrounding U-198. With so many U-Boats made (over 1000), i was a little disappointed that the real U-198 did sink by subchasers but it was off the coast of the Seychelles and U-198 never had patrols in Caribbean waters. U-198 was also a Type IXD2 boat whereas the supposed expert in the book referred to it as a Type VIIc. But such is life and the internet was not the resource then as it is now. For the record, Wilhelm Korrin was not a real Kapitaen and especially not of the U-198.

Subterranean Press 704/750 ( )
  T4NK | Sep 30, 2014 |
A German U-boat resurfaces after forty years thanks to a salvage attempt by a man running from his past.
The book has one of the longest set ups I have ever read - almost one third of this book. That is bit too long. The prologue is perfect. It takes place during the WWII when that U-boat had sunk a freighter and was sunk in return. Only one man survived.
Forty years later David Moore accidentally releases the submarine and with it its terrible cargo.

It takes quite some time for the story to move forward. Parts of the story are extraordinary and others are unnecessary slow. The parts of the book about the threat, the islanders' memories of war and the attacks in the present are what is making this book great. Childhood memories of voodoo make add to the mystique of the story. On the other hand, since I don't know anything about boats and their parts, it was a bit tedious reading about it. It took me out of the story. The constant reminders of skin colour don't help either. He didn't miss a lot of characters.

Still, Robert McCammon is a great writer. He even managed to make me feel sorry for them. That and I can't remember ever reading a description of a real Nazi officer (not the ones with conscience as in other books) that wasn't an attempt of finding the monster in his outward features. The man, before he died, was attractive. Somehow I don't think the author planned that, but there you go.

My reading of this book was a combination of ups and downs. One moment I was thinking how slow everything is going, the next I was almost overwhelmed in a good way. I don't even have to say the latter are parts of this book with zombies and they overcome the ones I didn't really care for.

I still can't decide on the role one particular female character has in this book. The woman appeared in the middle of the book, ended up being in the middle of everything and all that being completely unimportant.

Overall, The Night Boat is a great zombie story once it lets you see the monsters. ( )
  Irena. | Aug 26, 2014 |
I have just read this novel. A terrifying Nazi-U-boat. This book is very well written and l find the idea very original. l have never heard about other books like this. The story is engaging to those who like horror fictions. ( )
  joeyly | Jul 4, 2013 |
I picked up McCammon's Night Boat because I had previously read and enjoyed his novel Swan Song.While this book wasn't quite as good as that one, it was still a fun little 80s horror novel.

The book is set on a small Caribbean island. A man goes diving and accidentally unearths an old German U-Boat, which promptly floats back to the surface. This is rather unexpected since a submarine that has been sunk for decades shouldn't be able to do that. This being a horror novel, the reader will know that the boat is rising because the crew isn't quite dead and are out to exact some sort of horrible revenge.

This wasn't the best horror novel I've ever read, but it isn't as bad as some people say it is and is generally a fun read. ( )
  yoyogod | Aug 22, 2011 |
I have enjoyed McCammon's novels and went back to read one of his earlier works to see how he has developed as a writer. His main character David Moore is living on Coquina Island in the Caribbean, having lost his wife and son, and so this horror tale begins... McCammon obviously early on in his career paid attention to detail, and any fan of his work will appreciate his second book in the genre.
From McCammon's web pages:
Here is a quick synopsis:
From the living hell of her watery grave she rises again...
Deep under the calm water of a Caribbean lagoon, salvage diver David Moore discovers a sunken Nazi U-boat entombed in the sand. A mysterious relic from the last war. Slowly, the U-boat rises from the depths laden with a long-dead crew, cancerous with rot, mummified for eternity.
Or so Moore thought.
Beneath the waves she will seduce the living and devour the dead...
  tobiejonzarelli | Apr 12, 2009 |
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God how the dead men -- Grin by the wall, -- Watching the fun -- Of the Victory Ball. -- Alfred Noyes, A Victory Dance
Evil . . . has infinite forms. -- Blaise Pascal, Pensees
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Robert Moore had a cushy life in Baltimore. The son of a bank president, he could have had the old man’s job if he’d just waited in line. But Moore isn’t the patient type, and rather than spend his life trapped behind a desk, he decamped for the Caribbean, to pass his days diving beneath the perfect blue sea. One day, diving deeper than usual, he spies a sunken ship. His investigations disrupt an unexploded depth charge, which hurls Robert to the surface with the sunken ship not far behind.

The U-boat, still seaworthy after all these decades, drifts towards the island and gets caught on the reef. A strange knocking echoes from inside the hull, as though something within is still alive. When Robert opens the long-closed hatch, he’ll learn that some sunken treasure is better left undisturbed.
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A salvage diver discovers a sunken Nazi U-boat under the waters of the Caribbean and unleashes a hideous, inhuman terror from beyond the grave.

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