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Full Name: John Prentice
Nationality: British
Organization: Royal Navy
Occupation Agent

Creator: Sea-Lion
Time Span: 1946 - 1949


John Prentice is an officer in British Naval Intelligence.

When we first meet him, he is attached to the Signal Corps and happy there. He has intentions of, nor even any thoughts of, moving from that specialty into the intelligence business but he will find himself pulled along, a little at a time, by his friend, Peter Browning, who is very much a part of the clandestine department that a Sir Edward Trelawny of the Briths Foreign Office commands.

Our initial encounter with Prentice will take place at the midway point of the Second World War when he is stationed in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on the west coast of Africa, at the time still very much a colony of the British Empire. It is there that Prentice will begin his unofficial working with Browning. [It would not be wrong to consider Browning being the main player in the activities. Prentice plays a major role in all of the adventures but the first couple clearly has him being more of a co-star. This will change over time.]

While it would not be fair to say that Prentice was a 'womanizer', there is no doubt that his "fresh, young face" with its handsome features and his "fair, wavy hair" was a perpetual lure for the opposite sex and Prentice is far too much a gentleman to leave such lovelies abandoned. He gets a good amount of teasing about his apparently large number of acquaintances who are ever ready to spend time with him. He explains his seeming reluctance to marry any of them with the comment that "a few girl friends have the advantage of costing little or nothing while one's away at sea. A wife must be a permanent drain on the exchequer".

Playing a vital part in all but the first adventure is the lovely, impressive Tania Maitland, actress and singer and star of several traveling shows. She will get pulled into danger on more than one occasion but will also prove extremely useful in investigations which will help resolve matters. She is first courted by young Prentice but finds him a tad too immature at first; her eye will land on his older friend Browning and they will eventually marry.

[Spy fiction authority Barry Van Tilburg states in his comments on this series in The Mystery Fancier (Vol 7. Nr. 4 - July 1983) that "After Browning's death, John and Tania enter into two adventures of their own. Later, Prentice becomes a full Commander and marries Tania".]


Number of Books:5
First Appearance:1946
Last Appearance:1949

1 Phantom Fleet Phantom Fleet
Written by Sea-Lion
Copyright: 1946

"The plot is concerned with a deeply laid German scheme of naval strategy, which incidentally explains the mysterious loss of a number of British vessels before the war, a mysterious fleet based upon a desert island, escapes and adventures such as only the war at sea can provide."

2 Sink Me The Ship Sink Me The Ship
Written by Sea-Lion
Copyright: 1946

John Prentice has his hands full as he deals with "Greek rebels in Crete, a lovely actress as the heroine, a stolen Egyptian treaty, and an attempt to sabotage the Suez Canal by sinking Britain's newest battleship therein".

3 Sea Of Troubles Sea Of Troubles
Written by Sea-Lion
Copyright: 1947

"The British Navy outwits an attempt by fanatical Nazis to establish a base for a Fourth and Greater German Reich in the remote Falkland Islands far down in the South Atlantic, though not before a new Fuehrer has demanded the evacuation of Allied forces from Germany under the threat of destruction of the principal cities of Great Britain, Russia, and the U.S.A. by long-range rocket bombardment."

4 Cargo For Crooks Cargo For Crooks
Written by Sea-Lion
Copyright: 1948

[plot unknown]

5 When Danger Threatens When Danger Threatens
Written by Sea-Lion
Copyright: 1949

[plot unknown]


This series is a terrific combination of spy-fiction and naval adventure as the author is a definite expert in the latter and, if not one in truth of the former, he fakes it very well.

The locations for the adventures is quite varied, ranging from Sierra Leone in the first book to the Falklands in the second and the Suez Canal region in the third (4th and 5th are as yet unknown to me). The time periods are all in the latter part of WWII or just after, all within the period that Britain still maintained its impressive "sun never sleeps" dominance.

I liked all three major characters (Prentice, Browning, and Maitland) and even had a grudging acceptance of the stern Sir Edward.

Sea-Lion (such an odd pen name!) definitely knew how to tell a story.


My Grade: B+


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