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The Keeper's Son

The Keeper's Son

4.5 29
by Homer Hickam

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In 1941, Killakeet Island of the wind-swept Outer Banks of North Carolina is home to a tiny, peaceful population of fishermen, clam stompers, oyster rakers, and a few lonely sailors of the Coast Guard. Dominating the glorious, raw beauty of the little island is the majestic Killakeet Lighthouse, which for generations has been the responsibility of one family, the


In 1941, Killakeet Island of the wind-swept Outer Banks of North Carolina is home to a tiny, peaceful population of fishermen, clam stompers, oyster rakers, and a few lonely sailors of the Coast Guard. Dominating the glorious, raw beauty of the little island is the majestic Killakeet Lighthouse, which for generations has been the responsibility of one family, the Thurlows.

However, Josh Thurlow, the Keeper's son, has forsworn his heritage to become the commander of the Maudie Jane, a small Coast Guard patrol boat operating off Killakeet. Josh is still tortured by guilt, seventeen years after losing his baby brother at sea. Then his life is complicated by the arrival of the beautiful Dosie Crossan, who has journeyed to lonely Killakeet to escape the outside world and perhaps find a purpose in life. While Josh's heart is stirred by the often-vexing Dosie, he continues his search for his brother, even after a wolfpack of German U-boats arrives to soak the island's beaches with blood and oil.

One of the U-boats is captained by Otto Krebs, a famed and ruthless undersea warrior. Krebs, a man also scarred by lost love, comes to Killakeet, however, with more than torpedoes and plans for war: He may also have the answer to the mystery that haunts Josh Thurlow.

The Keeper's Son is a rousing, romantic tale of the power of the human heart forever searching for redemption.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A gutsy Coast Guard officer battles German submarines and 17 years of unfettered guilt on the North Carolina coast in 1941 and 1942 in this high adventure yarn. Hickam, the author of the memoir Rocket Boys (which was turned into the film October Sky), knows a great deal about submarine warfare in WWII, as evidenced by his 1989 nonfiction naval history, Torpedo Junction. This is the first novel of a planned series about rough and tumble Coast Guard Lt. Josh Thurlow and his unusual patrol boat crew during WWII. Josh, 31, is a career officer assigned to Killakeet Island, along North Carolina's treacherous Outer Banks. Both he and his father-the keeper of the Killakeet Lighthouse-are haunted by the loss at sea and presumed death of Josh's two-year-old baby brother 17 years earlier. Shaken from his brooding by the appearance of German U-boats, Josh must try to protect the merchant ships torpedoed every night offshore. His patrol boat is small and ill-equipped, and his crew is a wacky group of casual islanders who aren't sure they really want to fight anybody. A talented U-boat commander named Krebs becomes Josh's honored enemy, but another U-boat skipper is a far more ruthless and dangerous adversary. Josh must fight both, as well as his suspicions that his little brother may not be dead after all; the reappearance of a childhood sweetheart leavens the mix. Hickam provides a vivid and convincing portrayal of life under the sea in a U-boat, as well as on the surface in a fragile patrol boat. Well-crafted characters, gripping naval warfare and colorful island life come together in this dynamic and exciting tale. Agents, Frank Weimann and Mickey Freiberg. (Oct.) Forecast: The success of the Rocket Boys trilogy should help launch this new series, as should an extensive author tour-Hickam is a practiced speaker. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The "Rocket Boy" is back with the story of Josh Thurlow, a Coast Guard commander during World War II chasing a U-boat captain who might just know something about his lost brother. With an eight-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nazi U-boats threaten the sweetly daffy residents of an island in the Outer Banks. Setting his irresistibly romantic WWII adventure on the fictional Carolina barrier island of Killakeet, long before the coming of the hulking cottages or the invention of time sharing, memoirist Hickam (Sky of Stone, 2001, etc.) successfully knits the true story of Germany's turkey shoot off the East Coast with the low-key lives of the fishermen, wild horses, lighthouse keepers, and other village types who had the beautiful place largely to themselves. Sturdy, smart Josh Thurlow, son of the present keeper of the Killakeet lighthouse has come back to the island after years away to take charge of the tiny Coast Guard station. Haunted by his responsibility for the disappearance at sea of his two-year-old brother Jacob, Josh has declined the inheritance of the family business, but he has thrown himself deeply into his new job, whipping the local lads who crew his rescue boat into a force capable of dealing with the certain menace of German submarines. Oddly, he seems to be the only officer in the Coast Guard able to see the vulnerability of the countless merchantmen who steam past the Graveyard of the Atlantic. And the Germans are indeed watching, particularly Kapitan Leutnant von Krebs, ace skipper of U-560. Krebs, who gained and lost the love of his life and acquired responsibility for a smart young orphan in one eventful visit to his childhood orphanage home, begins picking off the ships as quickly as he can launch his torpedoes. Josh gets no help from the higher-ups, but he can count on small-bore gunfire support from his recovering sophisticate girlfriend Josie who teams up with a Hollywood stunt rider asa mounted patrol. (It actually makes sense.) The situation worsens with the arrival of Supernazi sub skipper Vogel who has it in for Krebs. And that orphan on U-560, is it just coincidence that he's the exact age of the missing toddler Jacob? Or that he washes ashore after a crash dive? First of a series certain to seduce armchair sailors. Author tour. Agent: Frank Weimann/Literary Group International
From the Publisher
"Homer Hickam is the best natural storyteller I've read in years."

—Stephen Coonts

"In the best tradition of sea sagas, The Keeper’s Son is both beautifully written and nerve-wrackingly suspenseful. Homer Hickam is a master at creating atmosphere out of words, evoking time and place so that the reader becomes nostalgic for Mr. Hickam’s world. Homer Hickam’s first foray into fiction is a home run."

—Nelson DeMille

"With this book Homer Hickam expands his range as never before, into the realm of fiction, and the result is a compelling novel of war, romance, haunting guilt, victory. The Keeper's Son brings alive a special place and time, the Outer Banks of North Carolina before and during World War II, and the culture of fishermen, wreckers, surfmen and lighthouse keepers. It also gives the German side in a mirroring, parallel story that connects in a thrilling climax, revealing family secrets and conflicting loyalties. With a wealth of technical and historical detail, this is a story about learning to forgive ourselves, and learning to accept the gifts of life and love."

—Robert Morgan, bestselling author of Gap Creek and Brave Enemies

Stephen Coonts
"Homer Hickam is the best natural storyteller I've read in years."
Nelson DeMille
"In the best tradition of sea sagas, The Keeper's Son is both beautifully written and nerve-wrackingly suspenseful."

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
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Josh Thurlow Series
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Meet the Author

Homer Hickam is the author of six previous books, most notably the #1 New York Times bestseller Rocket Boys, which was made into the acclaimed movie October Sky. He is a Vietnam veteran, a scuba instructor, a retired rocket scientist, and an amateur paleontologist. More than anything else, he loves to write. He and his wife, Linda, and their cats divide their time between homes in the Virgin Islands and Huntsville, Alabama.

When he's not writing bestsellers such as Rocket Boys/October Sky, Back to the Moon, The Coalwood Way, and The Keeper's Son, Homer Hickam goes dinosaur hunting in the ranchlands and badlands of Montana. His important finds include two Tyrannosaurus Rexes and numerous other creatures of the Cretaceous Period.

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