When Douglas Reeman began writing about the Royal Navy in WWII, he wrote some of the best action stories about the war. The novels featured one or two reasonably developed characters, a love interest and a supporting one-dimensional cast. However, he wrote fantastic action scenes and his depiction of naval life rang true. A Ship Must Die was written when Reeman was consistently delivering nail-biting tension and action. It is one of his best.
A Ship Must Die begins in Australia in January 1944. A German raider is stalking the shipping in the Indian Ocean. Since the Indian Ocean is a backwater, the resources to aggressively track it down are not provided. One battered cruiser, Andromeda, must postpone repairs and pursue the raider. Complications arise when it appears that there might be not one but two raiders on the prowl. One cruiser has already disappeared at the hands of the Germans. Can our heroes survive and defeat the enemy?
In typical Reeman fashion the novel builds to a tense climax with all on the line in a final battle. My only complaint is that the idea of even one German raider roaming the Indian Ocean in 1944 tested the willing suspension of disbelief. However, in A Ship Must Die it did seem more plausible than in The Iron Pirate where the Germans were out in the Atlantic in 1944.
A Ship Must Die ranks up there with HMS Saracen as one of Reeman's best WWII novels. He stuck to his formula and executed it well.