Incredulity is strained beyond the limit in this otherwise engrossing tale by the author of A Flock of Ships and Dawn Attack. Captain Peter Ross of the Tactician, a rundown salvage tug on her way to the claims court, gives his dream of fortune one last chance as he and his partner race to the ""Mayday"" call of a ship supposedly wrecked off the rocky Algerian coast -- although when they arrive at the spot the Sarakamis is apparently in fine shape -- good enough to attempt to ram the Tactician before it deliberately grounds itself on a reef. Knowing a police investigation might result in the loss of the salvage prize, Ross and his crew become unwilling accomplices of the few remaining sailors from the Sarakamis who seem to distrust each other nearly as much as they distrust their would-be rescuers -- some of whom begin to die off in most suspicious circumstances. This is a thriller of Mafia narcotics smuggling, betrayal and counterbetrayal, a race of time against the sea and armed mines, torn cables, and the other sabotages of a homicidal mind. Good.