The Day the Sea Rolled Back

January 13, 2015 at 9:06 pm (Reads) (, , , )

The Day the Sea Rolled BackThe Day the Sea Rolled Back by Mickey Spillane

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A couple of weeks back, I was reminded of this book thanks to someone else asking about the name of the book.  I had read this before, back when I was at least 30 years younger than I am now, and once we managed to track down the name of the book (and the surprise author!), I requested it through the library.  Aside from being a source of nostalgia, the book had become a curiosity because it had been written by Mickey Spillane.

I’ve never read anything else by Spillane, but I could tell that the book was written by someone who wrote noir crime thrillers.  There were no dames, and no guns, but there were definitely turns-of-phrase that stood out as being part of that genre.  The plot, too, was a little hard-boiled: Larry and his father are treasure-seekers living on an island off the coast of Miami, who are ready to give up after a financial disaster.  It turns out that the disaster was orchestrated by competing treasure hunters, and once the sea rolls back past the horizon, the chase is on between Larry and his friend and the competing hunters to reach the sunken ship they’ve both been trying to find.

The plot is fairly predictable, and what characterization there is is painted with broad strokes.  The competing treasure hunters are motivated solely by greed, while Larry and his dad are nice-guy everymen.  It’s easy to see where things are going, and the story itself is just one of Larry and his friend staying a step ahead of their pursuers.  No explanation is given for why the sea rolls out to such a low tide, but it’s not necessary, since it’s just a device to keep the characters on the run.  I would have liked for there to be some explanation, but for its target audience — young boys who have developed beyond chapter books — it’s probably not necessary.

There were also some issues with the printing of the book — some “it’s” in place of “its” (which was strange in itself, since later in the book, they were properly used), using apostrophes to indicate a plural, and a “choose” in place of a “chose” — that were unfortunate, but not the fault of the author.  They were a little jarring, though not enough to take me out of the story.

Overall, the story was an entertaining adventure story, but it’s impossible for me to remove my nostalgia from the story to judge it completely objectively.  I can see it might not have enough to keep today’s readers fully engaged, but for young readers who don’t have a problem getting lost in pure story, it has some merit.  It was worth it to track it down and read it, especially since it only took me an evening to finish it.

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