Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Tattooed Man: Review

Who is the tattooed man? He is the cook on the tramp freighter Araby and the first man on the sailing vessel to take Tod Moran under his wing and help him find his place among his shipmates. Tod, 17 years old and not quite finished with high school, has joined the freighter as cabin boy and cook's assistant in the hopes that he can find clues that will explain the disappearance of his older brother from a freighter of the same line.

Rumor has it that Neil (his brother), who was ship's purser at the time, jumped ship in France--taking a good portion of the freighter's money with him. Tod knows his brother and knows that he would never do such a thing. He's convinced that there has been foul play somewhere and he is determined to prove his brother's innocence. But before he can do that, he must prove to his shipmates that he is no cowardly land-lubber and that he can hold his own in a fight with one of the burliest men aboard.

Tod also has to decide whom he can trust. A young woman who works in the freight company's office knew his brother and had told Tod to make friends with the first mate. That the first mate would be able to help him find out what happened to Neil. But Tod's instincts tell him that the first mate has no concern for anyone but himself.  The captain is in a constant fog from drink. The men with whom he shares his bunk space only want to tease him and make things difficult. And the tattooed cook? There appears to be more to him than meets the eye....but is that a good thing? Or will the cook ultimately turn him over to the officers who seem to be up to no good?

Tod's search for his brother and the means to prove his innocence makes for a good old-fashioned "Boys Own Adventure."  Lots of action, mysterious doings, nefarious bad guys, and good guys in hiding make for lots of fun in this early 20th Century book by Howard Pease. Pease, a teacher of 7th and 8th grade, was tired of, as he saw it, the predominance of female writers of adventure stories in the early 1900s. So, he began writing stories that he thought portrayed real boys and young men having exciting adventures. His aim was to create a hero who was just brave enough to see the adventures through--but no superman. Tod has to learn the trade of a seaman--he doesn't come equipped with the skills to sail a boat (and operate any other piece of machinery that might come his way). He even starts the voyage with an honest-to-goodness bout of seasickness. He shows the expected fear of men who could overpower him--but is willing to take them on if necessary. He's just an average guy hoping to find his brother--and along the way he begins to learn what it means to be a man.

Good solid adventure story. Take it as read that a book from 1926 is not politically correct by today's standards. But the story itself is entertaining and Tod is a very engaging character. ★★★

This fulfills the "Man in the Title" square on the Golden Vintage Bingo card.


J F Norris said...

I've owned several copies of this book over the years and sold every single one of them. Pease is still pretty collectible these days. I love the Mahlon Blaine drawings in this one.

Anonymous said...

I don't know this author at all - thanks Bev, really enjoyed the review. Am in awe of course of how well you are doing with the challenge!

Bev Hankins said...

John...perhaps this is one of the copies that you've had pass through your hands. :-) The drawings are pretty good!

fredamans said...

Might be a little too 'golden' for my tastes but it does sound like an interesting story. Fab review!