FORGOTTEN BOOKS: BOMBSHIP BY BILL KNOX!
I first discovered the prolific Scottish author Bill Knox via his twenty-four Thane and Moss police procedurals. These were solid, reality based, novels displaying Knox’s reporter’s eye for detail and characterization. However, while the Thane and Moss novels became Knox’s most successful series, I was more enamored with another of his series characters – Webb Carrick of Her Majesty’s Fishery Protection Service.
I think part of my fascination with the Webb Carrick series is how Knox managed to make ‘Fishery Protection’ into a constantly inventive pursuit – I never knew Fishery Protection could be so interesting. Knox was obviously interested in more than just fish and offshore treaties, although either could be the start to a more complicated and dangerous situation. The upstanding Carrick is far more Coast Guard officer than fisherman and never shies away from action of any kind.
Knox also makes a point of allowing Carrick to progress through his career with Fishery Protection in Hornblower style from his first ship assignment through his first command – all of which adds to the rich background of these relatively short novels by today’s bloated blockbuster standards.
One of my favorite titles in the series, which started in 1964 with The Scavengers, is Knox’s 1980 entry, Bombship:
When the submerged wreck of a World War II ammunition ship begins discharging its lethal cargo of explosives near the Scottish coast, diving officer Webb Carrick of Her Majesty’s Fishery Protection Service is dispatched to prevent a disaster. If the bombship is blown up, the entire village of Port Leister may go along with it, but the deadly tide of live mines and shells threatens both the local beaches and the shipping lanes outside the bay.
To complicate matters, the wrecked hull is teeming with a mutated species of giant conger eels with unnatural strength and an unusual inclination to attack. But the greatest danger of all is posed by a ruthless organization of modern-day pirates operating from a hidden base on a nearby island.
Following a trail of murder and conspiracy, Webb Carrick discovers the prize they are after: half a ton of missing gold bars at the bottom of the bay. . .
Knox began his writing career as a young Glasgow journalist and was variously employed as crime reporter, motoring correspondent and news editor. He made many contributions to radio and television and was well known to Scottish viewers as the writer and presenter for twelve years of the Scottish Television police liaison program, 'Crime Desk.'
Aside from the twenty-four Thane and Moss books and the fifteen Webb Carrick novels, Knox wrote many other crime novels – mostly for Crime Club – including separate series under the pseudonyms Robert MacLeod, Michael Kirk, and Noah Webster. He died in March 1999.
THE WEBB CARRICK NOVELS:
The Scavengers (1964)
The Klondyker (1968) aka A Figurehead
Dead Man's Mooring (1987)
The Drowning Nets (1991)
Most titles can be easily and cheaply acquired through online used book sources and will provide hours of reading entertainment.