John F Hanley

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Against The Tide – Jack Renouf Book One

July 1939: Meet Jack Renouf, nearly nineteen, and in his final days at Victoria College in Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands; only ten miles from France but over 100 from England.  He's focused on breaking the one-minute barrier for the 100 yards freestyle to qualify for the British swimming team at the 1940 Helsinki Olympics.  Desperate for those last few seconds, he listens to Miko, an enigmatic Jewish refugee who works as a waiter in a local hotel but claims to have trained the Romanian water polo team for the Berlin Olympics.  But everyone else at the swimming club is suspicious of Miko who always wears the same white tee shirt and never enters the water.

Hitler is still chewing his rug over Poland, Communists, and Jews but the British just want to enjoy their summer holidays, stick their spades and heads in the sand, and ignore the thunderous clouds over Europe.  His father has forbidden Jack from talking about swimming, university, and especially his Uncle Fred whose subversive socialist views have brought him into conflict with the local establishment.

Jack is torn between two champion divers; his long-time friend, the secretive Rachel, and newcomer Caroline whose seductive behaviour makes him the envy of his friends but seems to offend all the adults. He feels guilty about neglecting Rachel and worried about the consequences of the intimacy Caroline has encouraged but he's too stubborn to listen to advice, takes little interest in the news, and tries to ignore his father, as he can't understand why he is so difficult about everything.   

After an incident in a water polo match events spiral out of control as he is confronted with German espionage, learns why his uncle is being shadowed by Special Branch, and attempts to foil the plans of local politicians, fascists, and appeasers who are working together to smuggle industrial diamonds to the Nazis.

Review

"A MULTIFACETED PAGE-TURNER"

… a rich soufflé of young love, war, sport, greed and friendship. On the outside it's a thriller with races, boat-chases, shootings, spies, and a roller-coaster-ride ending. On the inside it's a touching coming-of-age story that has resonated with me days after finishing this book. Made me remember what it was like to be young in the summer and made me want to buy a motorcycle. What an ending! Can't say enough good things.  Kent Sligh, Los Angeles

Review

"A FAST MOVING AND BELIEVABLE PLOT"

….there are boat chases, conspiracies, romance, smuggling, spying, swimming, Jack is a teenager in a time where the world will soon abandon the healthy competition he thrives on for the violence of war, and he will have to swim against the tide to keep his faith in himself and do what he feels to be right...a really exciting novel, with great characters in a world which you know is changing forever as you read the pages.   S. Riaz (Amazon Top Reviewer) 

Review

"THRILLING"

... this book has got it all - love, passion, history, spies, smuggling, conspiracies, all told amidst the backdrop of the beautiful island of Jersey. I found the verbal sparring between Jack and his best friend very entertaining…I thoroughly enjoyed the diving scenes …factual but exhilarating to read, and on the subject of exhilarating, those last few chapters were thrillingly intense!! Can't recommend this book highly enough!! Desperate to start reading the next one.   S. Sharpe UK

Review

"A BOOK TO BE SAVOURED"

… there was not one page to gloss over… and every one a delight as the scene is meticulously set during the build up to the biggest upheaval in the history of the island. Jack's impulsive and risk taking behaviour makes for very fast moving action. You feel every embarrassment as he deals with his emotional turmoil with the two young women in his life, yet at the same time being surprised at how capable, daring and brave this 18 year old can be.  Kate N (Australia)

Review

"ABSORBING AND BREATH-TAKING; HEARTILY RECOMMENDED"

The looming Second World War provides a background tension …. Jack's struggle with relationship and family issues make fascinating reading, and the development of all the characters is very believable and absorbing. The competition between Caroline and Rachel for Jack's attention is particularly entertaining. Family and other relationships are volatile, often violent and provide many interesting twists and turns, adding to the tension of the main plot. I love the way the pace increases slowly but surely building up to an excellent and surprising ending.  Arthur Crandon (Hong Kong)

Review

"ROMANTIC RIPPING YARN"

…the prose is crisp, the characters well-defined and the historical setting sketched with remarkable attention to detail. Jack is both believable and likeable. I found myself genuinely gripped by his dealings with the central characters - flighty siren Caroline, rival love interest Rachel, and "red" Uncle Fred, whose horrific experiences at the hands of fascists leads us into darker waters. The main plot - smuggled Nazi diamonds - is well worked out.  It is to the author's credit that the main twist, when it comes, is both unexpected yet credible. Fute UK

Review

"AN EXCELLENT NOVEL -  DIVE IN"

The book's title is a clever metaphor for the rebellious movements of its heroes as they set their shoulders against the inevitable surge of Hitler's war machine.  Renouf is a swimming champion, Rachel and Caroline competitive divers, and much is set in the cold and choppy waters of the Channel. Love is made, shots are fired and minds made up within the brine…I can't think of a novel that so completely captures the essence and influence of the sea on a fictional psyche.  UK

Review

"AUTHENTIC AND WELL WRITTEN – AS CLOSE TO SIX STARS AS YOU CAN GET"

This is an amazing piece of literature.  It paints an authentic picture of Europe before the outbreak of the war. The balance between historical facts and personal tragedy is well kept and ensures we never lose interest. The times bring out the best or the worst in everyone while the world seems to hang in balance waiting to spin off its axis. I have read my share of books from this period and found this particularly well-crafted. Very well done and highly recommended.  Christoph Fischer UK

Review

TERRIFIC OLD FASHIONED THRILLER

Smuggling, sex, Nazi skulduggery -- and water polo -- in this atmospheric, well-written thriller set in Jersey just before World War Two. More than a nod to John Buchan's "39 Steps" to my mind, and no bad comparison. If that is the kind of thrill you like, then this is definitely for you. Looking forward to the sequel, which takes us forward into the war years. I can see several of the nastier characters will return, still up to no good. Frederick Taylor

"A MULTIFACETED PAGE-TURNER"

… a rich soufflé of young love, war, sport, greed and friendship. On the outside it's a thriller with races, boat-chases, shootings, spies, and a roller-coaster-ride ending. On the inside it's a touching coming-of-age story that has resonated with me days after finishing this book. Made me remember what it was like to be young in the summer and made me want to buy a motorcycle. What an ending! Can't say enough good things.  Kent Sligh, Los Angeles

"A FAST MOVING AND BELIEVABLE PLOT"

….there are boat chases, conspiracies, romance, smuggling, spying, swimming, Jack is a teenager in a time where the world will soon abandon the healthy competition he thrives on for the violence of war, and he will have to swim against the tide to keep his faith in himself and do what he feels to be right...a really exciting novel, with great characters in a world which you know is changing forever as you read the pages.   S. Riaz (Amazon Top Reviewer) 

"THRILLING"

... this book has got it all - love, passion, history, spies, smuggling, conspiracies, all told amidst the backdrop of the beautiful island of Jersey. I found the verbal sparring between Jack and his best friend very entertaining…I thoroughly enjoyed the diving scenes …factual but exhilarating to read, and on the subject of exhilarating, those last few chapters were thrillingly intense!! Can't recommend this book highly enough!! Desperate to start reading the next one.   S. Sharpe UK

"A BOOK TO BE SAVOURED"

… there was not one page to gloss over… and every one a delight as the scene is meticulously set during the build up to the biggest upheaval in the history of the island. Jack's impulsive and risk taking behaviour makes for very fast moving action. You feel every embarrassment as he deals with his emotional turmoil with the two young women in his life, yet at the same time being surprised at how capable, daring and brave this 18 year old can be.  Kate N (Australia)

"ABSORBING AND BREATH-TAKING; HEARTILY RECOMMENDED"

The looming Second World War provides a background tension …. Jack's struggle with relationship and family issues make fascinating reading, and the development of all the characters is very believable and absorbing. The competition between Caroline and Rachel for Jack's attention is particularly entertaining. Family and other relationships are volatile, often violent and provide many interesting twists and turns, adding to the tension of the main plot. I love the way the pace increases slowly but surely building up to an excellent and surprising ending.  Arthur Crandon (Hong Kong)

"ROMANTIC RIPPING YARN"

…the prose is crisp, the characters well-defined and the historical setting sketched with remarkable attention to detail. Jack is both believable and likeable. I found myself genuinely gripped by his dealings with the central characters - flighty siren Caroline, rival love interest Rachel, and "red" Uncle Fred, whose horrific experiences at the hands of fascists leads us into darker waters. The main plot - smuggled Nazi diamonds - is well worked out.  It is to the author's credit that the main twist, when it comes, is both unexpected yet credible. Fute UK

"AN EXCELLENT NOVEL -  DIVE IN"

The book's title is a clever metaphor for the rebellious movements of its heroes as they set their shoulders against the inevitable surge of Hitler's war machine.  Renouf is a swimming champion, Rachel and Caroline competitive divers, and much is set in the cold and choppy waters of the Channel. Love is made, shots are fired and minds made up within the brine…I can't think of a novel that so completely captures the essence and influence of the sea on a fictional psyche.  UK

"AUTHENTIC AND WELL WRITTEN – AS CLOSE TO SIX STARS AS YOU CAN GET"

This is an amazing piece of literature.  It paints an authentic picture of Europe before the outbreak of the war. The balance between historical facts and personal tragedy is well kept and ensures we never lose interest. The times bring out the best or the worst in everyone while the world seems to hang in balance waiting to spin off its axis. I have read my share of books from this period and found this particularly well-crafted. Very well done and highly recommended.  Christoph Fischer UK

TERRIFIC OLD FASHIONED THRILLER

Smuggling, sex, Nazi skulduggery -- and water polo -- in this atmospheric, well-written thriller set in Jersey just before World War Two. More than a nod to John Buchan's "39 Steps" to my mind, and no bad comparison. If that is the kind of thrill you like, then this is definitely for you. Looking forward to the sequel, which takes us forward into the war years. I can see several of the nastier characters will return, still up to no good. Frederick Taylor

JSC Tidal pool the size of 10 Olympic pools

JSC Tidal pool the size of 10 Olympic pools

JSC - Water Polo match 1960s - author taking part

JSC - Water Polo match 1960s - author taking part

JSC - terrace with Mens Open Air enclosure bottom left

JSC - terrace with Mens' Open Air enclosure bottom left

JSC - Water Show watched by over 1000 people

JSC - Water Show watched by over 1,000 people

1939 - Battle of Flowers float - hoping for Peace

1939 - Battle of Flowers float - hoping for Peace!

Vic College - cadets on inspection

Vic College - cadets on inspection

HMS Jersey approaching harbour Elizabeth Castle behind

HMS Jersey approaching harbour Elizabeth Castle behind

HMS Jersey entering harbour to swing into Victoria Pier

HMS Jersey entering harbour to swing into Victoria Pier

50 yard course with water polo pitch to the side

50 yard course with water polo pitch to the side

JSC- Diving stage 3 5 and 10 metre stages

JSC- Diving stage 3, 5 and 10 metre stages

JSC- Rachel in flight from 3 metre board

JSC- Rachel in flight from 3 metre board

Mont Orgueil castle with St Catherines breakwater in background

Mont Orgueil castle with St Catherine's breakwater in background

St Catherine's - Jack's fictional farm middle left

St Catherine's - Jack's fictional farm middle left

St Catherine's breakwater looking West

St Catherine's breakwater looking West

View over St Catherine's breakwater from Jack's farm

View over St Catherine's breakwater from Jack's farm

Uncle Fred's Brough Superior SS100 he claims belonged to Lawrence of Arabia

Uncle Fred's Brough Superior SS100 he claims belonged to Lawrence of Arabia

Jacob's Star at sea

Jacob's Star at sea

St Catherine's Breakwater slipway where final battle takes place

St Catherine's Breakwater slipway where final battle takes place

JSC Tidal pool the size of 10 Olympic pools

JSC - Water Polo match 1960s - author taking part

JSC - terrace with Mens' Open Air enclosure bottom left

JSC - Water Show watched by over 1,000 people

1939 - Battle of Flowers float - hoping for Peace!

Vic College - cadets on inspection

HMS Jersey approaching harbour Elizabeth Castle behind

HMS Jersey entering harbour to swing into Victoria Pier

50 yard course with water polo pitch to the side

JSC- Diving stage 3, 5 and 10 metre stages

JSC- Rachel in flight from 3 metre board

Mont Orgueil castle with St Catherine's breakwater in background

St Catherine's - Jack's fictional farm middle left

St Catherine's breakwater looking West

View over St Catherine's breakwater from Jack's farm

Uncle Fred's Brough Superior SS100 he claims belonged to Lawrence of Arabia

Jacob's Star at sea

St Catherine's Breakwater slipway where final battle takes place