Gentle Reminders, by Martin Perry
Let me start with a very brief precis. While the good ship Annie is docked and undergoing repairs, a small group of the crew go and get drunk. One of them Mysteriously Disappears, and wakes up to find he has been kidnapped and tortured, but he has no idea why or by whom, and no memory of the event. He escapes from his kidnappers' underground lair through the sewers, is found by a crewmate, and returns to the ship. There is a brief flashback showing us why the ship is undergoing repair - it was attacked by pirates. Just before our brave crew continue on their journeying, the same group head into town to pick up some supplies, and to try to find out what happened earlier. They are ambushed, have a fight, win, and find out a Clue. They set off with a cargo to deliver to another port, which they do, but when they leave that port they are sabotaged by a stowaway, are wrecked on an unknown shore, and have to contend with Monsters. They learn from the stowaway that The Conspiracy is after something that the first crewman unwittingly has, and that his family are now in danger. The crew is like family, so they head off to defend their crewmate's family, discover what it was that the conspiracy was after, and beat off an assault by The Conspiracy that was chasing close on their heels. The End.
Now, what genre do you think this falls under? Sounds like a maritime thriller to me.
Well, I lied, just a little bit. One word of my precis is untrue. Change 'shore' to 'planet' and it's bang on. So while the setting of Gentle Reminders is indubitably science fictional, this is really quite a traditional tale of derring-do on the
high seas space lanes, and it's a jolly well executed one too. It's a simple tale that is nice and evenly paced with a good mixture of page-turning excitement and character development, and the stars of the show are allowed the space to have personalities and relationships. There are a few lovely turns of phrase - one that particularly sticks in the mind is "they lay giggling in a pool of their own disgraceful behaviour". The only significant criticisms I have are that the antagonist organisation, and especially their leader, are a bit too cartoony and stereotyped; and I feel that the superhero ending was completely unnecessary. I understand, however, that there are sequels that are specifically to do with the superheroism and that this was just an introduction.
There were, as I moan about with just about every cheap Kindle book, a few minor spelling mistakes and other linguistic errors that jarred a bit, but I can let those go. At just £1.02 for the equivalent of 400-ish pages, it's an enjoyable bargain.