Stout took a giant step forward with his first novel, Carolina Skeletons, which won an Edgar as Best First Novel of 1989....



Stout took a giant step forward with his first novel, Carolina Skeletons, which won an Edgar as Best First Novel of 1989. Now with novice writer Furie, he takes a medium step back with an uninspired suspense-melodrama--innocents menaced by drug dealers--that features appealing lead characters but not much suspense or ingenuity. Newsman Kevin McNulty and wife Yvonne are the estranged young couple who sail into peril after drug dealers hide a shipment of coke on their sailboat dry-docked at Harvey's marina in their Long Island hometown of Port Guinness. The trouble starts when, in dividing their assets, the McNultys collect Lark IV and sail it around Manhattan and up the Hudson to a prospective buyer. The sun and wind mellow the pair, softening harsh memories of Kevin's drinking and Yvonne's miscarriage; but who are the men who seem to be following them by speedboat--and who momentarily board Lark IV late at night as the McNultys anchor on the Hudson? The couple hasn't a clue, but we do as Stout and Furie crosscut to scenes of Harvey the marina master being questioned by local midlevel drag-dealer Quince, then tossed into the ocean. The action intensifies when, at the McNultys' destination, three other men going after the stored coke force themselves onto the Lark IV and nearly rape Yvonne before Kevin fights them off. After some help from a local cop and some hard questioning from a suspicious DEA agent, Kevin and Yvonne return to Port Guinness. There, despite the arrest of Quince, violence flares again in a break, in at the couple's home and then in a botched kidnapping of the McNultys that reveals--no surprise--the drug queenpin behind all the mayhem. A final, explanatory chapter sorts out the tangled plot and closes with the now-reconciled McNultys back at sea and the violins soaring as Yvonne muses, ""Know what, Kevin? Eventually the tide will go our way."" A nicely observed portrait of a marriage nearly on the rocks; but fitful action, stock villains, and a meandering plot add up to a thriller with little wind in its sails.

Pub Date: July 10, 1990

ISBN: 0892964146

Page Count: -

Publisher: Mysterious Press--dist. by Ballantine

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1990