This novel, about the hijacking of a French Atlantic liner by a disparate group of disenchanted nihilists, is gripping from beginning to end. Although there is a degree of stereotyping to a few of the characters, Lehman adds sufficient depth and complexity to them to ensure that even his central protagonist Harold Colombine has questionable qualities, while some of the hijackers themselves, especially the women, are also seen as tragic victims themselves. Lehman draws on a broad canvas, as he widens the action to include the struggle for control on shore as well as aboard the liner, where different groups and factions vie for control, and shadow and eavesdrop in the switching communication battle, as the hijackers make their demands.
The action rarely lets up, except for some graphically sensual sex scenes (aboard & onshore), and the action's focus moves repeatedly around the different groups involved as each struggle to influence the outcome. This shifting dynamic is like the surging waves of the sea itself, it is never static and the reader is carried irresistibly headlong toward each new revelation. (Unsurprisingly, it was subsequently made into a film) A great holiday/airport book, and far superior to many of those which masquerade as thrillers. You won't be able to put this one down.