An energetic tale explores murder, revenge, and corporate deceit playing out on the high seas.
Silva’s (New York Scramble, 2015, etc.) seafaring novel follows the son of a murdered man who is bent on avenging his death. During a sailing trip around the Channel Islands, Hank Serling and his attractive mate, Susann Carmody, encounter a struggling swimmer awash in the ocean. They rescue the waterlogged man only to be viciously harassed by aggressive Navy SEAL petty officer Glen Maddox, who’d been administering an ocean swim test to assess his cadets’ physical endurance. Later, Hank learns of his father Matthew’s death in his Wall Street brokerage firm’s office, finding the police explanation of suicide and that his dad was nearly penniless difficult to believe. Hank is left with controlling interest in his father’s million-dollar, 53-foot racing sailboat, Vendetta, which is currently operated by a shifty group of mariners. After police suddenly deem Matthew’s death a homicide, Hank springs into action to solve his father’s murder, reclaim the sailboat (by any means necessary), and exact justice on the killers. But his intentions cause more problems than they solve. Hank absconds with the boat, and police put a reward out for its recovery, which tempts short-tempered, recently terminated Maddox with both the idea of money and revenge on the man who indirectly caused his military career to end. Subplots branch off the main attraction and include a co-conspiratorial plan to cash in on politically charged Panamanian land, machinations by murderous embezzler Wilbur Gammon, a falsified bankruptcy scheme, and a group of nefarious bandits who try to kidnap Hank. In this suspenseful, dramatic work, Hank remains a formidable protagonist: tough, resilient, eager to right Gammon’s wrongdoing against his beloved father, and a man who knows his way around both a new Caribbean love interest, Tara, and a sailboat (“The feel of sailing a boat at night began to work its magic. He experienced a strange confidence, having done all he could for the boat. Hank…kept his mind on just the vital elements—the rig, the wind, the sea”). Silva’s assertive prose more than makes up for some rickety coincidences, an overblown storyline, and a drawn-out sequence on Isla de la Boca pitting Hank against a gun-toting Maddox and a freak hurricane.
There’s nary a dull moment in this complex, relentlessly plotted, if bloated, maritime potboiler sure to keep readers alert.