Tuesday, February 19, 2019


I previously posted about the men’s adventure series The Aquanauts, praising it’s fantastic covers. I also despaired over the deplorably turgid writing inside the covers, which totally failed to live up to the promise of the artwork. What those covers should have been wrapped around is the little remembered Webb Carrick series from prolific Scottish author Bill Knox. I first discovered 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 were his most successful series, I was more enamored with his series featuring Webb Carrick of Her Majesty’s Fishery Protection Service.

I think part of my fascination with the series was how Knox managed to make Fishery Protection into a constantly inventive pursuit. I never figured Fishery Protection could be so filled with violence and action. Knox himself was obviously interested in more than just fish and offshore trespassing, 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. The writing is taunt, the plots inventive, and there are James Bond-style surprises—such as giant mutant conger eels with unnatural strength and an unusual inclination to attack (Bombship)...Oh, yeah, I was all in at the mention of mutant conger eels...

Knox 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 compared with today’s bloated blockbusters.

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, including series under the pseudonyms Robert MacLeod, Michael Kirk, and Noah Webster. He died in March 1999.


Since Webb Carrick, of the Scottish Fishery Protection Service, had previously had trouble with the crusty master of the Tecta, he isn't surprised when the Norwegian trawler once again slices through another boat's fishing nets. But among the masses of struggling fish in the Tecta's nets is a larger, darker, ominously motionless form, the body of a diver. Carrick believes it’s the body of a marine biologist who has been missing for ten days. In view of the scientist's connection with Crosslodge, the local nuclear power station, Carrick doesn’t believe the drowning was accidental. When an attempt is made to deliver Carrick to the same watery grave, Carrick knows there is mayhem on the water.

On board the Marlin, Chief Officer Webb Carrick squints across Scottish waters in search of the missing lobster boat. What he sees is the 40ft Thrift, the floating branch of the Bank of Central Scotland. What he finds is tragedy. The Thrift is adrift in Hebridean waters, her decks awash, her three main staff missing. Carrick finds all the hallmarks of an apparent robbery. However, the ship's safe is untouched, and a large sum of cash is still aboard the ravaged cruiser. Carrick’s instincts tell him answers lie somewhere in the ominous and islands off the Hebridean coast and the dangerous waters surrounding them.

As part of the Fishery Protection Service, Chief Officer Webb Carrick and the crew of the Marlin are assigned to supervise a deep-sea fishing championship off the Scottish coast. Their job is to ensure no over eager fishermen stray into the off-limits submarine training waters. However, when the body of a dead fisherman surfaces and a secret message from Admiralty Headquarters notifies Carrick of a missing experimental torpedo, it’s clear someone is after more than big fish. What had been a simple fishing championship has been transformed into a sinister tournament of death with Carrick and the Marlin as bait.

When the Marlin is assigned to transport a female scientist, Webb Carrick turns suspicious when he learns she is searching for a sea serpent. But when the Marlin pulls into Elder’s Bay on the rugged northwest coast of Scotland they find the survivors a badly damaged trawler who swear the damage was done by an enormous creature with a snake-like neck. But Carrick, who doesn’t believed in mermaids or mythical sea serpents, heeds the tantalizing call of a siren and spins the compass and his cruiser into the middle of danger and death.

The Brannan Islands were infected with fear and smoldering tension. As Chief Officer Carrick of Her Majesty's fishery protection cruiser Marlin swings in to investigate, he finds himself involved with a pretty girl, prawn poachers, moonshiners, a very deliberate killer, and a bizarre craft of the future—the hydrofoil called The White Witch.

When Webb Carrick steps aboard the small research ship The Clavella, is also stepping aboard his first independent command. It should be a time for celebration, but there are dark clouds ahead when Carrick is told to ask the fishermen in Quinbegg why their nets are empty, and why such things have only happened since the arrival of The Clavella and the people aboard who call themselves scientists.

On a shark hunt in the North Atlantic waters surrounding the storm-tossed Hebrides, Webb Carrick finds himself in the middle of a smoldering feud between renegade shark hunters and vengeful local fishermen, angered by the drowning of a young girl. The feud threatens to ignite when Carrick boards a wrecked fishing boat and finds her skipper dead on deck. As furious charges and counter charges are hurled, murder and arson come to the islands with stealthy suddenness. But when the final stormtide breaks, even Carrick is staggered to discover how much is at stake in terms of life and death.

The traditional wedding flag is flying from a fishing boat as the Marlin enters Port MacFarlane, on the west coast of Mull. But Port MacFarlane, a small but prosperous lobster fishing base, is no peaceful haven and the wedding flag marks the start of murder and violence—violence which reaches out in an attempt to destroy the Marlin and her crew. Fighting to save his boat and crew, Chief Officer Webb Carrick must enter the dangerous whitewater rocks and reefs of the Scottish west coast to untangle a web of blackmail, threats, and murder.

When two nature conservationists, branding seals on a remote island, disappear, Webb Carrick and the crew of the Marlin are drawn into the swirl of a Hellspot—a freak hole which leads to a Devil's Triangle of gun-running, murder, and deadly seas.

The H.M. Fishery Protection cruiser Marlin is ordered to the Brannan Sound to collect ballot boxes from offshore Scottish islands. Chief Officer Carrick soon realizes Brannan Sound has earned its reputation as a place of fear, where ancient superstitions come readily to life, and where a woman known as the Witch of the Isles is a power to be reckoned with. Before long, Carrick also discovers the by-elections by-products are not only votes, but also terror, sabotage and murder.

When the submerged wreck of a World War II ammunition ship begins discharging its lethal cargo of explosives near the Scottish coast, 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 is a half a ton of missing gold bars at the bottom of the bay.

While shadowing a Russian fishing trawler in the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic, Webb Carrick of Her Majesty's Fishery Protection Service uncovers smuggling and murder.

When a massive oil slick drifts perilously close to the fishing grounds of is new patrol area, Fisheries Protection Chief Officer Webb Carrick is sent to investigate reports of illegal trawling. However, when illegal trawling turns into murder and a boat repair yard burnt to the ground, Carrick is on the trail of an ancient treasure, hidden from the Vikings by Scottish monks, and men infected with gold fever, who won’t be stopped—even after Carrick is dead...

Chief Officer Webb Carrick must act quickly to avoid an international disaster festering beneath the surface of a sleepy fishing village on the Isle of Skye.

Stretching for miles in the seas off the Scottish islands, the salmon killing nets are illegal. When a fishery protection patrol launch tries to arrest one salmon gang, it is promptly attacked and bombed by a high-speed raider escort, which leaves the crew barely afloat. Skipper Webb Carrick and his patrol launch Tern are ordered to investigate. On the day Carrick arrives, the body of the previous Fishery Protection agent is recovered from Port Torquil's harbor. There are more deaths as Carrick tries to penetrate the mystery. But the drowning nets also have their own startling secret—bigger than anything Carrick had imagined.

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