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Most Secret (1945)

by Nevil Shute

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4001054,264 (3.81)21
In their trusty fishing boat Genevieve, armed with a flame thrower and limited ammunition, a small group of officers and men take a stand against the might of the German army after the fall of France in World War II. This is classic Shute- at once a thrilling adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and a heartbreaking tale of the ravages of war.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Most Secret by Nevil Shute - published 1945, this Redwood Editions copy 2003. A slow, but ultimately worthwhile build here. It’s easy to see how so many of Shute’s novels were adapted for the big screen. The first half is all about establishing the main 4 or 5 characters’ back stories and motives. An unlikely group of Second World War British naval officers are teamed with an Anglo-French agent and finagle themselves with an unlikely mission to wreak havoc on the Brittany coast with an escaped fishing trawler equipped with a deadly weapon. The authenticity of the setting and the devil of the detail sets this story apart from your average wartime adventure. Skilfully assembled into a gripping narrative that builds to an exciting finish. Very enjoyable and touchingly poignant. ( )
  Polaris- | Jul 13, 2022 |
This is another of Nevil Shute's novels set in England during World War II. It's a period of time that fascinates me. Times were terrible, but somehow the British muddled through and eventually entered a new era in which they could once again thrive. The plot is a bit more convoluted than most other Shute books I've read, and also rather more blood thirsty. Not my favorite of his works. But still rather engaging.

Basically we have four protagonists, or perhaps five. Charles Simon is an Englishman who was brought up in France, sent to public school in England, and then returned to work in France as a cement engineer. He is fluent in both French and English and, although his accent and word choices are slightly off, can readily pass as one or the other. When the Germans get too close to where he is working, he manages to escape to England and gets taken on by the military.

Oliver Boden is the son of a wool spinner. He takes rather a fancy to sailing. His life-long friend and, for a short time, spouse, is killed in a German air raid over London. He wants revenge.

Michael Rhodes is the son of a doctor who died while Rhodes was still young. Despite some hard times, he did make it through school and procured a job as a chemist. He loves mixing up concoctions, whether it be skin-restoring face cream, or something more akin to napalm.

John Colvin is a sailor who has bummed around here and there. He was living in Seattle when the war broke out and immediately found his way to England so as to sign up with the Royal Navy.

Then, we have Commander Martin, who is sometimes narrator of the story, and who is nominally the head of the war-time operations described.

So, the British have a French fishing vessel in one of their ports. At the suggestion of Simon, they outfit it for some covert war intrigue. Simon thinks that the people of Brittany will turn against their local German occupation force if some horrific acts of defiance can be accomplished. They decide to use the French fishing vessel to insinuate itself into the fishing fleet and then rain fire on the few German boats "guarding" the fishermen. So, they get the boat outfitted with a flame thrower, and Rhodes concocts a rather deadly pyrotechnic mix to spew onto the Germans. Bowden is the overall head of the operation, and Colvin provides expertise in navigation and general seamanship. Something like that.

Like all Shute books, it was well plotted, rather interesting, and, of course, somewhat nerdy on the science, engineering, and sailing parts. It was a bit more blood thirsty than I would like, but then I spent too much time in Sunday School as a youngster.
( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
A story basically four men involved in a covert operation against the Germans using a fishing boat with a flame thrower.

This is not my favourite Shute book. I found his use of the first tense confusing at times and he bounces between characters at times and sometimes I thought I was reading about one character and not realizing he switched to another.

The story is a bit predictable as you are led step by step, organizing the crew along with their back stories, then the actual attacks. This book has a bit of romance which is a feature of most of his books but in this case it is quite a bit muted.

overall it is a decent read but not his best in my opinion ( )
  Lynxear | Mar 17, 2019 |
An elegant wartime thriller, with English ships raiding the French littoral as if Drake had never died. Written in 1942 (and published after the war, perhaps because it is accurate with its descriptions of British naval actions), it manages to be patriotic without being jingoistic. This is in no small part because author Nevil Shute is steadfastly dedicated to characterization, and each of the ship's crew emerge as real people rather than Boy's Own cut-outs. This does put a drag on the pace of the novel, particularly in the early chapters, but it ends as an astute war story that entertains whilst still being something you can sink your teeth into. All in all, a classy piece. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Dec 4, 2018 |
written in 1942 but censored until 1945
It is narrated by a commander in the Royal Navy, and tells the story of four officers who launch a daring mission at the time when Britain stood alone against Germany after the fall of France. Genevieve is a converted French fishing vessel, manned by four British officers and a small crew of Free French ex-fishermen, armed only with a flame thrower and small arms. Their task is as much psychological as military: to show the Germans that they will one day be beaten back.
  MasseyLibrary | Mar 6, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nevil Shuteprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hagsted, SigvardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lange, IbTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, RogerNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Söderberg, StenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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PAN Books (X320)
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A burnt child dreads the fire.
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So much happened in the two years that I spent at the Admirality, I had a finger in so many pies, that I have found it difficult to say exactly when it was this thing began.
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In their trusty fishing boat Genevieve, armed with a flame thrower and limited ammunition, a small group of officers and men take a stand against the might of the German army after the fall of France in World War II. This is classic Shute- at once a thrilling adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat, and a heartbreaking tale of the ravages of war.

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