Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Ship Possessed by Alton Gansky

A Ship Possessed cover

A Ship Possessed
by Alton Gansky

Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
First Released: 1999

Source: Bought at library sale

Back Cover Description (slightly modified):
It Arrived 50 Years Late and Without Its Crew--But It Didn't Arrive Alone

The USS Triggerfish--an American World War II submarine--has come home over fifty years after she was presumed lost in the Atlantic. Now her dark gray hulk lies embedded in the sand of a San Diego beach, her conning tower barely above the breaking surf. The submarine is in the wrong ocean, her crew is missing...and her half-century absence is a mystery that's about to deepen.

For the Triggerfish has returned, but she has not returned alone. Something is inside her--something unexpected and terrible. To J.D. Stanton, retired Navy captain and historian, falls the task of solving the mystery surrounding a ship possessed. What he is about to encounter will challenge his training, his wits, and his faith.

Complicating his mission is the leader of a neo-Nazi group who is obsessed with obtaining an artifact stolen from the Nazi regime that he thinks may be on the Triggerfish. And poised in the middle is a young woman, a lieutenant who must contend with invisible forces she never knew existed.

A Ship Possessed is a Christian thriller involving the paranormal (mainly demons/fallen angels) and modern terrorists. The novel was fast-paced and kept the tension high. Parts were downright creepy and one section was heart-breaking. I came to care about the characters even though they didn't have a lot of depth (as in, the nosy, arrogant reporter was always nosy and arrogant, etc.).

The story switched back and forth between the modern section and the events leading up to the 1943 disappearance of the Triggerfish. The two story lines were easy to follow. The world-building was excellent; details about the navy and WWI submarine warfare were woven into the story without slowing the pace.

There were a lot of point-of-view characters all introduced with full backgrounds. That did serve to build their characters, but I began to get these details mixed up which concerned me since I wasn't sure how important it was to remember these details correctly. It wasn't important. Despite the subtitle, this was a thriller not a mystery.

There wasn't much mention of God until the second half of the novel. Though the reader is briefly lectured on someone's pet theory (see below), it's more about physics than the Bible. However, profession of faith in Christ was critical to the story so most non-Christians probably wouldn't care for it.

I had minor problems with some theological issues brought up in the story. I don't think the Bible supports the idea that demons usually reside in another dimension like that described in the story. I also would have been more convinced by the ending if Stanton had been even a slightly more committed Christian throughout the novel. However, I still enjoyed the story.

The rare bad language was of the "he cursed" style. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this novel as well-written and suspenseful clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
A hushed voice: "Stanton has to be happy with this. After slicing his drive into the rough, then two stroking onto the green, he now lacks a fifteen-foot putt to be one over par. Of course, fifteen feet is a long way, especially over mixed grass with a diverse cross grain that..."

"Do you mind?" J.D. Stanton snapped. "I'm trying to play a little golf here."

Jim Walsh cleared his throat and grinned sheepishly. "Sorry, just trying to create a little atmosphere."

"I know what you're trying to do. You're a stroke behind. If I miss this putt we'll be even and you'll have your first and best chance of beating me."

"I...I'm hurt," Walsh said, his voice oozing with insincerity.

"Sure you are." Stanton lowered his head, eyed the cup, then the ball. Slowly he drew back the putter and gently swung it forward. The club head made a soft "clack" as it struck the ball. Starting off straight, the ball began a slow curve toward the hole. A moment later it dropped in.

"You are the luckiest man in the world, Captain Stanton," Walsh said loudly. "That ball should have stopped short by two feet, but no, it just kept rolling."

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