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Nautical Fiction Index

Authors MacDo - McLa

MacDonald, John D. (John Dann) (1916-1986)

The Last One Left. Doubleday, 1967. 369 pages

Murder at sea. No survivors. No evidence. No reason not to be $800,000 richer. Crissy Harkinson knew all about the cash that had left the Gold Coast of Florida, headed for the Bahamas on board a pleasure boat. It was Texas money...unrecorded, intended as a bribe. And then there was enough of it to change a dozen lives. Or end them.


Travis McGee series:

Travis McGee lives on a custom-made 52-foot barge-type houseboat dubbed The Busted Flush (after the poker hand, in memory of the game enabling him to win it), docked at Slip F-18 at Bahia Mar Marina, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Only the books that seem to have a significant nautical element are listed here.


  1. The Deep Blue Good-by. Fawcett, 1964. 252 pages

    Book 1 - Begins and ends aboard the BUSTED FLUSH, McGee's 52-foot houseboat. Quite a bit of on-the-water action. McGee chases a bad guy through Florida in search of a fortune in jewels.

  2. Bright Orange for the Shroud. Fawcett, 1965. 190 pages

    Book 6 - Set in Florida, with McGee sailing his houseboat to where the baddies live. Lots of nautical by-play, including an on-the-water climax. McGee breaks up a vicious marry-for-money con game.

  3. Darker Than Amber. Fawcett, 1966. 190 pages

    Book 7 - Set in Florida and the Caribbean. Not much boating, although a good fraction takes place on a cruise ship. McGee breaks up another con game, this one with murderous twist.

  4. Pale Gray for Guilt. Lippincott, 1968. 240 pages

    Book 9 - Set in Florida. Lots of floating in this one, McGee goes to visit an old football friend, only to find that he killed himself in an implausible manner. One of the best McGee novels, some say.

  5. A Tan and Sandy Silence. Lippincott, 1971. 261 pages

    Book 13 - Set in Florida and the Caribbean as McGee follows the trail of a missing lady friend to the island of Grenada, where he discovers a stranger posing as his friend and an intricate, murderous con game. Quite a bit of boating and a very wet climax.

  6. The Scarlet Ruse. Lippincott, 1973. 262 pages

    Book 14 - The one about stamp collecting. Set in Florida, with plenty of boats (and a description of a very dangerous way to end a water-skiing session).

  7. The Turquoise Lament. Lippincott, 1973. 287 pages

    Book 15 - Set in Hawaii and Tahiti, with boat-related flashbacks to Florida and Mexico. McGee tries to convince a friend's daughter that her new husband isn't really trying to kill her.

  8. The Dreadful Lemon Sky. Lippincott, 1974. 228 pages

    Book 16 - Set in Florida. McGee stays on the "FLUSH" for this one, but there's not a lot of boating. McGee agrees to keep a package for a friend who then walks in front of a truck.

  9. The Empty Copper Sea. Lippincott, 1978. 239 pages

    Book 17 - Set in Florida, no boating to speak of. A friend of McGee's is accused of losing his boss overboard. McGee tries to clear his name.

  10. Cinnamon Skin. Harper & Row, 1982. 275 pages

    Book 20 - Set in Florida, Texas, Mexico, and elsewhere. Not much boating. McGee's best friend Meyer has his boat blown up, and the two of them set out to find the real reason.

  11. The Lonely Silver Rain. Knopf, 1985. 231 pages

    Book 21 - Set in Florida, with some boating. McGee is asked to find a missing yacht, but then finds himself the target of assassination attempts with no apparent reason. Prior to his death, MacDonald planned one more novel to complete this series.



McDonald, Roger (1941- )

Mr. Darwin's Shooter. Atlantic Monthly, 1998. 365 pages

The story of the young sailor who became Charles Darwin's manservant during the voyage of HMS BEAGLE. In the seven years they voyaged together he shot and collected many of the specimens that his 'gent' used to arrive at his theory of natural selection.



Macdonnell, J. E. (James Edmond) (1917-2002)

Fleet Destroyer. Book Depot, 1945. 102 pages

Collection of stories about life on the small ships. Revised in 1961.


Enemy in Sight. Horwitz, 1958. 176 pages

Lt. Peter Bentley is detached from his destroyer to take command of a 4-man minisub, which is supposed to sneak into a Japanese harbor and attack the cruisers therein. Revised in 1959.


Mutiny! Horwitz, 1958. 176 pages


Target - Battleship. Horwitz, 1959. 174 pages


The Gunner. Horwitz, 1959. 130 pages


The Recommend. Horwitz, 1960. 160 pages


Escort Ship. Horwitz, 1960. 161 pages


Eagles Over Taranto. Horwitz, 1961. 161 pages


The Lesson. Horwitz, 1961. 162 pages


Battle line. Horwitz, 1962. 162 pages


Broadsides! Horwitz, 1962. 162 pages


The Gun. Horwitz, 1963. 130 pages


Not Under Command. Horwitz, 1963. 130 pages


Headlong into Hell. Horwitz, 1968. 128 pages


To the Death. Horwitz, 1969. 130 pages


The Iron Claw. Horwitz, 1973. 128 pages

Centred around an Australian destroyer flotilla whose leader is the WIND RODE - her Captain, Peter Bentley with his brother-in-law Bob Randall as First Lieutenant, operating out of Port Moresby in WW II. A lone Japanese cruiser is targeting lightly protected convoys in what should be Allied controlled areas of the Pacific and Bentley makes it his business to try and eliminate this threat. Very Australian Navy - surprisingly (for less than 130 pages, packed with non-stop action) very readable.


Full Fathom Five. Horwitz, 1968. 130 pages

The thread of this book starts with an action between the destroyer JACKAL - Captain "Dutchy" Holland and an Italian surface raider off the North West coast of Australia. Also a cruiser, HMS SURREY - Captain Bentley Snr., in action on the Russian convoys. As the threads are woven together Bentley Snr. joins his son Peter Bentley and son-in-law, Bob Randall, in WIND RODE with some help from the JACKAL, for an exciting sea battle against a Japanese invasion fleet.


Choke Point. Horwitz, 1985. 144 pages


Kenyon PT boat series:

  1. The Convert. Horwitz, 1966. 161 pages

    Lt. Kenyon takes command of a PT Boat and must prove himself to himself, his crew and the squadron.

  2. Down the Throat. Horwitz, 1967. 128 pages

    Lt. Kenyon sinks Japanese transport that turns out to have been full of Allied prisoners and nurses. Of course it was a set-up, but Kenyon must overcome his doubts and prove himself to himself, his crew and the squadron.

  3. South Pacific Fury. Horwitz, 1968. 126 ppages

    Kenyon and the 44-boat are sent to rescue a coast watcher on a Japanese-held island in the Phillipines. In the process they sink or cripple numerous major elements of the IJN which are attempting an offensive.


Jim Brady series:

  1. "Gimme The Boats". Constable, 1953. 256 pages

    A classic "destroyers at war" novel mainly of the destroyer SCOURGE - Captain James Brookes. Although not primarily about Jim Brady he features strongly in this story, as a petty officer, the back-bone of the navy, whose contribution to the success of the ships he serves in is already being noticed. Reprinted as "Jim Brady: Able Seaman".

  2. Jim Brady: Leading Seaman. Constable, 1954. 269 pages

  3. Commander Brady. Constable, 1956. 310 pages

    Jim Brady is now in command of the destroyer CIRCE at war with the Japanese. The problems of combat, grounding and having to put divers down in shark infested water, coupled with his doubts of the decisions he has to make form a basis for quite a good yarn.

  4. Subsmash! Constable, 1960. 287 pages



McFee, William (1881-1966)

Casuals of the Sea : the voyage of a soul. Doubleday, Page, 1916. 469 pages


Command. Doubleday, Page, 1922. 337 pages

Adventures of a mate on a British freighter.<


Sailors of Fortune. Doubleday, Doran, 1929. 415 pages

A collection of short stories and one novelette dealing with the men, officers and soldiers of fortune who serve in ocean liners. Contents: A son of the commodore.--The armoire.--The roving heart.--The wife of the dictator.--Captain Musker's vacation.--The vanished passenger.--The sword of Doctor Damocles.--At the Villa Agostino.--Relesse.--The garden of the Bey.--The Virgin of Loreto.--Os the Malecon.--Deckers on the coast.--The untarnished shield.


North of Suez. Doubleday, Doran, 1930. 309 pages

The adventures of Lt. Stephan Rumford, RNR as he serves as the Chief Neutral Transport Officer at Port Said during WW I. Rumford -- who believes all foreigners are "Dagos" -- executes his responsiblity for passing neutral ships through the canal with scrupulous honesty, to the discomfort of the captains attempting to carry private cargos on government charters, and the disgust of his wife, who cannot understand why he won't feather his nest with offered bribes.


Derelicts. Doubleday, Doran, 1938. 439 pages

Our hero, chief engineer of the SS SANSOVINA, meets a wealthy passenger and spins her a yarn about WW I.


Watch Below : a reconstruction in narrative form of the golden age of steam when coal took the place of wind and the tramp steamer's smoke covered the seven seas. Random House, 1940. 375 pages

Lightly fictionalized account of the author's experiences with the British tramp freighter trade.


Ship to Shore. Random House, 1944. 407 pages

The captain of the luxury liner LEXINGTON during the Depression deals with a fire at sea.


In the First Watch. Random House, 1946. 334 pages

Reminiscences of life at sea in British tramp steamers before and during the Great War.



McGee, James

Wolf's Lair. Grafton, 1990. 320 pages

A familiar story - In the closing hours of the Third Reich a U-boat is loaded with a mysterious cargo and an even more mysterious passenger. The captain's orders are to proceed (refuelling on the way of course!) to Argentina and ignore all instructions to surrender. A present day adventurer, ex-special forces - framed drug smuggler, is recruited by the U-boat captain's son to solve the whereabouts of the lost submarine after his father's Knight's Cross (with oak leaves, swords and diamonds) is found clutched in the hand of a dead Greek fisherman. Written in an offhand style making a fair light read in spite of the spectre of the Fourth Reich.



McGlamry, Beverly

Goodly Heritage. Ballentine, 1986. 532 pages

In the late 17th and early 18th centuries Abrial Barker becomes buccaneer while Eliza Barker becomes renowned ship designer.



McGowen, Tom

The Last Voyage of the Unlucky Katie Marie. A. Whitman, 1969. 32 pages

After spending all his money on a cargo to trade in India, the captain of the clipper UNLUCKY KATIE MARIE is forced to use chunks of ice to ballast the ship.



MacGregor, James Murdoch (1925- 2008)

When the Ship Sank. Doubleday, 1959. 236 pages

A motor passenger vessel -- modeled loosely on the ATHENIA -- sails from Britain with a load of passengers escaping WW II. Then, on the first day of the war, it gets torpedoed and sunk, forcing all aboard to fight for survival. Book focuses on the fates of six women on the ship, and their friends, families and associates also aboard.



MacHardy, Charles

Send Down a Dove. Coward-McCann, 1968. 351 pages

The submarine HMS SCORPION has its refit cancelled, and in April 1945, is sent on a poorly thought-out mission to patrol the Skaggarak with a captain that believes he will be passed over for promotion and a disaffected crew.



McIlveen, Melvin

Treachery and treason in Canada's sealing fleet. Windshift, 2010. 310 pages

Inspired by Victor Jacobson, a well known West Coast sealer based in Victoria B.C. This is an epic love story and rivalry between two 'sea dogs' played out on the sealing grounds of the Pacific North West. It is set in a period when Vancouver Island was not part of British Columbia, not part of Canada and not part of the USA.



McIntyre, Marjorie

The River Witch. Crown, 1955. 282 pages

The daughter of riverboat captain and her adventures along the upper Mississippi. So notorious in her day, they wrote songs about her.



Mack, William P. (1915-2003)

WWII Destroyer series:

  1. South to Java. Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1987. 460 pages

    Co-author William P. Mack Jr. Four-piper O'LEARY starts the Pacific war in the Asiatic Fleet stationed in Manila. With a suicidal captain, and a disgruntled Lieutenant Fraser, it must weather the initial Japanese onslaught against the Philippines and Dutch Indonesia. Nov. '41 - Mar '42.

  2. Pursuit of the Seawolf. Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1991. 417 pages

    O'LEARY, following refit, is transferred to the Atlantic, less Fraser, Arkwright, and the doctor. Meridith is CO, a rich Texan, Tex Sorenson, becomes Exec. Takes O'LEARY through the worst stages of the Battle of the Atlantic, until she is sunk in a duel with a German Seawolf sub. May '42 - Nov '43.

  3. Checkfire! Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1992. 411 pages

    WW I vintage destroyer becomes amphibious transport in the Pacific during WW II.

  4. New Guinea: A Novel of War at Sea. Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1993. 430 pages

    Sorenson, now qualified for command takes charge of USS CARSON, a SIMS class destroyer. With other survivors of the O'LEARY, the current XO of the CARSON, and an ex-naval aviator, Auerbach, he commands the ship during operations off New Guinea, the Admiralties, and a fictional invasion of Morotai, supporting McArthur's advance. Nov 1943 -- Sep 44

  5. Straits of Messina. Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1994. 355 pages

    Introduces the BENSON-class DD LAWRENCE, with a new cast of characters, as it provides escort services and offshore support to the Anglo-American invasions of Sicily and Salerno. One or two O'LEARY alumni are aboard in supporting roles, and the O'LEARY makes a cameo appearance. Major new characters are "Horse" Phelps, commodore of DesDiv 32, Pete Fannon, XO, and "Beetle" Bronson, communications officer.

  6. Normandy. Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1995. 253 pages

    Takes LAWRENCE from pre-D-Day build-up, through the invasion of Southern France. Phelps is still commodore, but Fannon is the LAWRENCE's captain, Bronson is XO. Book ends with "Beetle" Bronson taking command of the GRAYSON, another destroyer in the flotilla.


Matthew Christopher series:

  1. Lieutenant Christopher : a novel of the Sea. Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1998. 316 pages

    Tells the story of a young privateer who joins the Commercial Navy out of a sense of duty, and is recruited by Commodore John Paul Jones, after which he finds himself a participant in the famous raid on Whitehaven and the battle with HMS Seraphis.

  2. Christopher and the Quasi-War with France. Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 2002. 217 pages

    Tells the story of a shipbuilding familys problems when ship's captain Matthew Christopher and his crew aboard one of his family's newest ships, the Mary, are abruptly drafted to ward off the French while trading in the Caribbean.


Fergus Kilburnie series:

  1. Captain Kilburnie. Naval Institute Press, 1999. 367 pages

    This novel charts the rise through the ranks of Nelson's navy by Fergus Kilburnie, one of the first Scotsmen to serve as an officer. With the bold pluck of a natural-born leader, an innate affinity for the sea, and not a little help from friends in high places, the intrepid Kilburnie escapes one predicament after another to earn in just a few years a captain's stripes and the plum of the fleet, a three-masted frigate to fight France and Spain for command of the seas. In addition to French and Spanish foes, Kilburnie battles dangerous and unpredictable seas, envious crewmen, jealous fellow officers, and his own powder-keg emotions.

  2. Commodore Kilburnie. Naval Institute Press, 2002. 209 pages

    Scotsman Fergus Kilburnie returns to Nelson's Navy to do battle with England's enemies.



McKay, Simon

The Seas of Fortune. Berkley, 1983. 359 pages

Yankee captain and ship designer moves to Charleston, begins developing revolutionary steamships, becomes a noted blockade runner during the Civil War, and continues his struggle to get steam accepted following that conflict.



McKenna, Richard (1913-1964)

The Sand Pebbles. Harper & Row, 1962. 597 pages

For years the U.S. Navy gunboat San Pablo has been patrolling a tributary of the Yangtze River in China protecting American missionaries and businessmen. Her crew has grown soft and lazy. Then the great Chinese Revolution of the 1920's breaks out. This is the story of the crew, particulary Jake Holman, as they face the precarious situation and make agonizing decisions.


The Sons of Martha, and Other Stories. Harper & Row, 1967. 221 pages

Posthumous collection of McKenna's short stories, and the unfinished novel on which he was working when he died. In addition to first three sections of the novel, the collection consists of an autobiographical essay, Journey With a Little Man; short stories King's Horseman, Fool's Errand, and A Chronicle of a Five-Day Walking Tour Inland on the Southern Portion of Guam.


Casey Agonistes, and other science fiction and fantasy stories. Harper & Row, 1973. 150 pages

Posthumous collection of McKenna's SF short stories: Casey Agonistes.--Hunter, come home.--The secret place.--Mine own ways.--Fiddler's green. The last work, perhaps McKenna's most ambitious story, tells of a group of men adrift in a small boat, without food and water, who mentally create a pocket universe into which they may escape.


The Left-Handed Monkey Wrench. Naval Institute Press, 1984. 335 pages

Collection of stories, essays and part of the autobiographical novel he was working on at his death. Includes: The Left-Handed Monkey Wrench; Church Party; King's Horsemen; Life Aboard the USS Gold Star; The Fiction of History; The Wreck Of Uncle Josephus; and The Sons of Martha.



MacKenzie, Compton (1883-1972)

Whisky Galore. Chattor & Windus, 1947. 264 pages

During World War II, a cargo vessel is wrecked off a remote Scottish island group — Great Todday and Little Todday — with fifty thousand cases of whisky aboard. Due to wartime rationing, the thirsty islanders had nearly run out of the "water of life" and see this as an unexpected godsend. They manage to salvage several hundred cases before the ship sinks. But they must thwart the efforts of the authorities to confiscate the liquor, particularly in the shape of a pompous English Home Guard Captain.



Mackintosh, Eliza [pseud. Josephine Tey] (1896-1952)

The Privateer. Macmillan, 1952. 279 pages

Famous mystery writer tries her hand at tall ships book with this tale of Henry Morgan in Jamaica.



McLaughlin, W. R. D.

Antarctic Raider. Harrap, 1960. 253 pages

In the closing days of 1941 the German surface raider VIKING leaves Hamburg on a secret mission to capture the Allied whaling ships operating off Antarctica and return them to Germany with the whale oil from which glycerine is to be extracted for munitions. The mission is not as secret as the Germans hoped, the British have got wind of it and dispatch the armed merchant cruiser QUEEN OF NEW ZEALAND, under the command of Captain Carmichael, RN, to combat the threat.


So Thin is the Line: A Further Novel of the War in the Antarctic. Harrap, 1963. 189 pages

A convincing WW II story of piracy, sabotage and murder on the high seas when whaling was a reputable industry and an economic necessity. As the sub-title hints, this is a continuation of the author's previous novel and concerns the German commandos and officers in charge of the two Norwegian whaleships, CACHELOT and ANTARCTICA, that the VIKING captured and sent back to Germany, and the reactions of the ships' crews. The two ships are in the charge of two very different types of German officers.