YIKES! I’M POSTING THIS UP EARLY TODAY AS I’M OFF TO SLAY A COUPLE OF DRAGONS AND NEED TO GET MY ARMOR ON AND PICK UP MY LANCE FROM THE DRY CLEANERS . . .
Published in 1947, The Killer Mine, was one of the early novels establishing Innes’ reputation for tension and high adventure. Set in England, three years after the end of World War II, Jim Pryce, a miner by trade, but a deserter from the British army, has just returned to England from Italy. He has made his way to the Cornish coast in the hopes of securing a no questions asked mining job through his friend, Dave Tanner.
When Jim finds Dave, his friend is in trouble with the law for liquor-running. Nevertheless, Dave follows through on his promise and sends him over to talk to Captain Manack, the owner of a local mine.
When he does, Jim discovers Captain Manack doesn’t want to work the old tin mine for profit, he wants Jim to blow a hole through the top of an undersea shaft and flood it. That way, they can create an underwater entrance for illegal liquor to be unloaded into the mine. Will Jim take the job?
THE KILLER MINE
Smuggled illegally into his native land after many years’ absence, army deserter Jim Pryce finds himself deposited on a Cornish beach. Little does he suspect, setting out along the road to Penzance, that he is about to walk straight into a mine disaster, and into a story involving his own history.
On the run, a deserter from the army, Jim Pryce returns to Cornwall. But the familiar places of his childhood are not the welcoming villages they once were. And when the ruthless modern-day smugglers who operate along the deserted coast need his mining expertise, Pryce has no choice but to aid them. The crumbling mine which is his workplace becomes a nightmare killing ground when his usefulness is over. For the smugglers are quite prepared to kill to keep their secrets. And death is the ultimate silence…
Hammon Innes is one of the holy trinity of high adventure writers along with Desmond Bagley and Alistair MacLean. Bagley wrote stronger characters, while MacLean did man-against-nature better than anyone, but nobody can beat Innes when it come to action sequences that thrill while remaining grounded in reality.
Innes, like Bagley and MacLean, is out of favor today in this world of over the top non-thrilling thrillers. Do yourself a favor and seek out one of the masters. The Killer Mine is a great place to start.
A HAT TIP TO JESSE OVER AT THE SFF AUDIO BLOG FOR BRING THIS TITLE BACK TO MY ATTENTION