Published in 1963, Dead Calm is one of Charles Williams’ last novels.
About a dozen of his books were adapted on-screen, with Dead Calm, produced in 1989 by Phillip Noyce and starring Sam Neill and Nicole Kidman, probably being the most notorious adaptation. Orson Welles had begun working on an adaptation project but the latter never saw the light of day.
Confidentially Yours, François Truffaut’s last movie, which stars an incredibly sharp and bubbly Fanny Ardant, is also adapted from one of Charles Williams’ novels.
But back to Dead Calm. John and Rae Ingram are sailing across the Indian Ocean for their honeymoon, when they save Hughie, a shipwreck survivor floating on a raft. Hughie tells them that the entire crew was killed by food poisoning, which eventually caused the boat to start sinking.
As Hughie sleeps, a suspicious John decides to go look for the boat. He leaves Rae with Hughie and makes his way towards the ship. He finds two live but tied up people aboard. The panic begins.
Panic also rises in Hughie when he wakes up to find that John has left for the other boat. He takes control of the sailing boat and takes Rae as his hostage.
Two boats and a couple separated by a psychopath… Will John and Rae survive and make their way back to each other? This thriller’s suspense is mainly psychological and I can promise you it is absolutely gripping.
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