When six characters have their lives changed forever by an act of piracy, they must decide who is to blame—and what can be forgiven.
Daniel and Vanessa Parker are a wealthy, successful couple who have drifted apart. When their only son, Quentin, gets into some trouble at school, father and son undertake an epic sailing trip in the Pacific Ocean, leaving their flawed lives back in Annapolis. Their idyll is spoiled when their sailboat is overtaken by seven Somali pirates, led by the intelligent but desperate Ismail, who will do anything to secure his younger sister’s rescue from the clutches of her extremist husband. The government’s top hostage negotiator, Paul Derrick, is brought in to work against the pirates’ increasing agitation with an aggressive U.S. military—and with each other. Addison (The Garden of Burning Sand, 2014, etc.) juggles six different perspectives in this suspenseful, sprawling story and moves back and forth between Africa and America to cover the kidnapping, negotiations, and subsequent trial. As with his previous two novels, Addison’s attention is focused squarely on the larger message behind the story and on instructing the reader about Somali culture in order to humanize those who are brought low by the war and terror of its recent history. This novel’s push to teach readers a lesson is perhaps overly evident throughout; at one point Derrick says, “He may be an enemy. But that doesn’t make him less of a human being.” This can result in Addison’s stretching his readers’ belief for the sake of creating sympathetic characters, especially in the novel’s courtroom climax. And while these characters, especially the Americans, all feel slightly interchangeable—they are all well-educated and gifted musicians who drink fancy wine and drive fancy cars—the conclusions they reach about the importance of forgiveness and the need for cross-cultural understanding could not be more timely.
A fast-paced thriller that puts its humanitarian moral at the forefront.