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The Wreck Of The Mary Deare

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,175 ratings  ·  109 reviews
They dismissed the Mary Deare as "a piece of leaking ironmongery taken off the junk heap". For forty years, this 6,000-ton freighter had tramped the seas, suffered shipwreck twice, and been torpedoed three times in two world wars. Then one March night, battered, bruised, and empty, she emerged from severe Biscay gales into the English Channel -- and into the newspaper head ...more
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published 1956 by Alfred A. Knopf
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John Rousmaniere It's a seafaring/ mystery classic -- a thrilling tale wrapped around a boat and sailors at risk in Force 10 weather in the English Channel. Hammond In…moreIt's a seafaring/ mystery classic -- a thrilling tale wrapped around a boat and sailors at risk in Force 10 weather in the English Channel. Hammond Innes brilliantly describes glories of sailing (and a few discomforts as well) while telling a solid story. I first read "Wreck" many years ago and chose it for our monthly maritime book group. (less)

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 ·  1,175 ratings  ·  109 reviews

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Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

Above me the sails swung in a ghostly arc, slatting back and forth as Sea Witch rolled and plunged. There was scarcely wind enough to move the boat through the water, yet the swell kicked up by the March gales ran as strong as ever and my numbed brain was conscious all the time that this was only a lull.

A storm is brewing somewhere in the Atlantic, heading straight for the little sailing boat that John Sands has bought in France and is now trying to take over to a British port. He is dead ti
Aug 16, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An enjoyable thriller about a ship, The Mary Deare, wrecked in the Minquiers (a large outcrop of rocks south of Jersey some 20 miles from the French coast).

The ship hides some secrets and captain, crew, owners and insurance companies all have an interest in how, what and why.

Taking readers through the shipwreck, a court of enquiry and later adventures this is a solid sea based thriller. This is helped along as it shows all the seagoing knowledge of ships, tides and weather of the author, who se
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thrilling, atmospheric sea saga. Gideon Patch, the haunted master of the Mary Deare, is a complex and satisfying character, full of mysteries and ambiguities, by turns sinister, intriguing, admirable and tragic.
I'm a bit biased when it comes to some of these older thrillers and this story is no exception. Thoroughly enjoyed this rollicking seafaring adventure. The story of the Mary Deare and the mystery that took place upon her final voyage.

The story is atmospheric and moody. The wonderful descriptions of the raging seas and the tragic Mary Deare, abandoned to her fate make this a gripping thriller.

Well written with excellent characterisation, a vintage thriller.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked this up at a used book store, one of those "fill a bag for a buck" deals. It was missing a dust jacket and I almost gave it a miss but tossed it in at the last minute.

I'm glad I did.

This is a well written, evenly paced adventure thriller about a wreck and the crew who abandoned her, leaving the captain to live or die alone. Why were they so anxious to leave? What was the ship carrying? And why were so many lives lost?

There is a court enquiry which takes up roughly one third of the book
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Of the seven or so Hammond Innes novels I've read so far this one is the best - Innes: straightforward, poignantly written adventure stories with one major flaw: the protagonist's frequent bouts of slow-wittedness - not in this one. Read by Bill Wallis - chapeau. ...more
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure-true
I never thought that I would like sea stories, but I loved this one, and after reading it I began picking up sea adventures. I don't recall much of this book, but it was good enough to keep to own after I read it. ...more
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-fiction
Maritime Mystery/Thriller

Engrossing thriller. Holds up perfectly today, although originally published in 1956.

A small yacht (sailing ship) in rough seas in the English channel is hit -- apparently unmanned -- by a 6,000 ton freighter. As an ominous gale approaches, John and Mike, in the small yacht, make a decision to board the freighter. They have just opened a maritime salvage business, and see this as the chance of a lifetime.

John is able to board the Mary Deare, and encounters Gideon Patch,
Dillwynia Peter
One of my little guilty pleasures is 30's to 60's British thrillers. Think Eric Ambler, Graham Greene, Helen McInnes, Alistair Maclean and Hammond Innes.

This one was a big seller for Innes and a successful film was made of it starring a young Charlton Heston and an ailing Gary Cooper - a gamble because there is a very important court scene & they can be killers to films.

It has all the elements that one hopes: a flawed man with high moral values, corporate or government corruption, a thug and a l
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is not only one of the four or five great sea adventure novels, but one of the four or five great adventure tales of our times. This novel alone would place Innes with the nineteenth century’s Robert Louis Stevenson and H. Ryder Haggard – Innes was the 20 th century answer to these two giants of adventure tales.

And this may be his classic: complex relationships, legalities, and examinations of heroism, as well as the struggle in the worst elements add to the richness of this novel.

This is a
Paul Cornelius
The Wreck of the Mary Deare is likely Hammond Innes' most famous and successful work, helped in part by the feature film made just three years after the novel's publication. It opens with thrills and adventure and never really stops. Even a lengthy courtroom scene covering the middle of the story works only to enhance tension and suspense. And all the while, it is probably Innes' most intense character study, in particular of Gideon Patch through the eyes of John Sands, who boards the Mary Deare ...more
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-read, May 2019. Liked this even better the second time around. The nautical scenes are so well-written and properly thrilling; and John Sands is a somehow more vulnerable and appealing "everyman" narrator than Heston's rather tougher, Americanized movie rendition—a decent, honest, ordinary guy who can take pretty good care of himself, but isn't ashamed to own up that he's scared in a terrifying situation.

I read this having already seen the movie version with Gary Cooper and Charlton Hest
Oct 07, 2019 added it
Shelves: seen-as-movies
Sea adventure which works very well on the big screen.
Scott Head
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Wreck of the Mary Deare, written in 1956 by Hammond Innes, belongs to the genre of adventure and drama tales that crosses the gap between great literature and pure entertainment. For a land-lubber who’s only sea-faring experience is a few long off-shore jaunts on deep-sea fishing boats, a couple of yacht trips, and the growl of coastal ferries, its difficult to grasp all the sea-farer lingo. I had to look up salty terms like “fo’c’sl” and “binnacle,” and find out what it meant to “lay to” in ...more
Hammond Innes, along with Alistair Maclean, was one of the early action adventure writers from the 80's and 90's. Way back then I read several of his novels and always enjoyed them.

Returning to one of his books was like a trip down memory lane. Like all shorter books of the period this one got straight into the action, had a bit of a lull in the middle and then an exciting ending. Also in keeping with this period, it's not part of a series or anything. Just a stand alone of around 200 pages.

Simon Mcleish
Sep 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Originally published on my blog here in October 2000.

An early Hammond Innes - maybe even his first - thriller, The Wreck of the Mary Deare is evocative of the seafaring life which is central to so many of his novels. It begins in the small boat Sea Witch, crossing the Channel to be refitted as a salvage vessel. Suddenly, out of the dark, stormy sea, they are almost run down by a far larger, apparently abandoned, ship, the Mary Deare. Meeting up with it again later (surely an unlikely coincidence
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When John Sands, captain of the Seawitch and part-owner of a salvage company, sees the wreck of a large freighter that almost ran them down, he takes the opportunity to investigate: a ship abandoned with engines going full ahead and no radio plea for help is far from usual. He gets far more than he bargained for. What happened to the Mary Deare? And what's the truth of the matter? The first officer's story is unbelievable, but the alternative is horrific.

In this enthralling maritime adventure, I
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Riveting tale of a rusty old ship, captained by a man unwilling to let his command be spoiled by abandonment of his crew during a suspicious fire. A salvage captain of another ship comes on board the Mary Deare to see why this seemingly unmanned ship nearly rammed his ship the night before. The two ship's captains begin a friendship that starts with saving the ship they are now trapped on together. Finally off the ship, now they are in a courtroom to determine the causes of all the disasters and ...more
Sam Thursfield
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I pretty much enjoy any story that mixes up hard times with a steam engine with a pressure gauge pushing into the red. The dark, creepy environment of a deserted cargo ship is all there with every creak of the old wooden hull adding to the tension. There's also some more dull sections touching on English maritime law and the like but it's nice to have a break from the cold water of the ocean now and again. As thrillers go I'd say this is one of the best I've read. ...more
Glenn Bell
Sep 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I happened upon this 1956 classic recently as I was cleaning out my father-in-law's library.

The mysterious wreck of a freighter results in a nail-biting mystery that continues to unfold with twists and turns until the very end. Excellent.

Note: If you have seen the very mediocre 1959 movie of the same name, don't be deterred from trying the book. The movie made a mess of a great story.
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Got interesting in the last 30 pages or so (two men fighting the cold and the merciless sea) but that was a couple of hundred of pages too late. This was supposed to be an adventure novel slash courtroom drama, but it lacked adventure and drama. A dictionary with nautical terms is also a must if you don't want to get lost at sea with Innes. He knows his ships and dangerous waters and that's worth two stars. ...more
Aug 02, 2012 added it
Shelves: vvv, 2012
Having read this novel, the only piece of "Nautical Fiction" I have ever read, I am now in a position to state, unequivocally, that so-called "Nautical Fiction" is responsible for 1/3 of all the uses of the apostrophe in the English language.

N.B.: writing "for'ard" instead of "forward" is like replacing the mayo on your BLT with paste.
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I didn't get too far with this one when I first tried it some years back, but on impulse decided to have another go at it. The second time seems like the charm; even though I'm completely at sea when it comes to all the nautical terminology, this is an engrossing suspense/adventure yarn. ...more
Feb 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook, 2010
I had a hard time following this one. I think you really need to be a sailor to appreciate what's going on. It seemed to just go on and on. I don't know if I will give this author another try or not. ...more
Julian Walker
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tense, gripping page-turner from the off.

Tightly written drama on the high seas and in the courtroom.

Cracking thriller of the old school.
Terry  Watkins
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating mystery

So unlike typical cozies and thrillers as to be unique. Gripping with good characterization. A look at a world that most of us will never see.
Eden Thompson
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From my book blog
For a long time I've been intrigued by this title (it was a film as well) and was happily surprised to find it is a dynamic sea adventure. Actually, I thought the title was The Mystery of the Mary Deare, which would also suit. Fate handed me a nice hardcover from 1956 complete with original dust jacket, and it was hard to put down.

Paul Sands and his two buddies are sailing through a gale in the Channel Islands when they see a steam freighter co
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The door of the charthouse slammed back to give me a glimpse of the lit saloon and against it loomed Mike Duncan's oilskin-padded bulk, holding a steaming mug in either hand. The door slammed to again, shutting out the lit world below, and the darkness and the sea crowded in again. 'Soup?' Mike's cheerful, freckled face appeared abruptly out of the night, hanging disembodied in the light from the binnacle. He smiled at me from the folds of his balaclava as he handed me a mug. 'Nice and fresh up ...more
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
One night, three men on a large sailboat are nearly plowed under by a runaway freighter that, they saw, had no one manning the wheel in the freighter’s pilothouse. The next day, they find the same freighter, unpowered and drifting. As the three were salvagers, one man (John Sands) managed to get on board the freighter before a storm separated the two ships. Searching the freighter, Sands finds only one man aboard. He is exhausted, disheveled, half-crazed and nearly incoherent. Who is that man? W ...more
Grace Harwood
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wasn't at all sure about this book at first. I think what put me off it is that it is written in the first person, which somehow didn't sit quite right with the tone of the book at first. Also, it reads as a bit dated (but then it was written during the 50s). However, I soon got into the swing of it and I've got to say, this is highly addictive. The story commences with Sands, a man who has just started a shipwreck salvage firm, trying to sail a wrecked boat across the English channel in a gal ...more
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Ralph Hammond Innes was an English novelist who wrote over 30 novels, as well as children's and travel books.He was awarded a C.B.E. (Commander, Order of the British Empire) in 1978. The World Mystery Convention honoured Innes with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bouchercon XXIV awards in Omaha, Nebraska, Oct, 1993.

Innes was born in Horsham, Sussex, and educated at the Cranbrook School in Kent

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