A debut thriller in which a London insurance broker uncovers a plot to bottle up the Persian Gulf with sunken ships--and then stick Lloyd's of London with megamilliondollar damages. To the horror of his half-brother Leo Turner, Roger Collingham, a hugely successful underwriter at Lloyd's, has veered from his usual safe and sound practices. Goaded by the success of an upstart rival, Collingham has offered to underwrite insurance on merchant ships doing business in the Persian Gulf at very risky rates. The maneuver succeeds in wiping out the rival, attracting all kinds of business, but it leaves Collingham in a position to be completely wiped out by any sort of upset in the Gulf. And an upset is just what is proposed by a nasty cartel of Mediterranean shipowners who see Collingham's insurance as a handy way to unload their excess tonnage, a plot overheard by the vacationing Leo in a posh restaurant in Piraeus. Leo dashes back to London to blow the whistle--only to find that his half-brother has gone rather mad, driven round the bend by the strains of business and the belief that his wife and Leo have betrayed him. So Leo has to tackle the problem with the help of a private-detective agency and his gorgeous, possibly treacherous American assistant. Leo's private war leads him to sign up as a cook's helper on the supertanker that his enemies plan to sink at the entrance to the Gulf, hoping that he and the Welsh investigator he hired can find the ship's off-switch in time. Thoroughly confident English yarn-spinning successfully conceals an absolutely impossible plot. Good fun.