COASTER by George Foy


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Coaster opens (but doesn't finish) as a distinct improvement on Foy's first thriller, Asia Rip, a predictable, humorless, overearnest nautical adventure. John Penrose, who is at home in Mayfair, has left the wealthy arms of his beauteous wife Selina, and the charms of her vastly rich father, Sir Norman Courtenay, to indulge himself as owner-captain of a coastal freighter, The Witch of Fraddam. One morning in Wales he's spotted stark naked in the home (and by implication bed) of a colliery foreman's wife. As a present to Penrose, the foreman (named Morgan) has wet coal loaded onto The Witch, and when the freighter hits a terrific storm midway across the English Channel, the now-liquid cargo bursts its hold and sinks the ship. The storm and the ship's sinking are rendered with enormous energy and sting, showing that Foy can write when he puts his mind to it. Once ashore, Penrose receives a phone call telling him hereafter ""to keep your organ out of Morgans in Glamorgan."" Putting in for his ship's insurance, he discovers that Lloyd's of London's underwriters will not pay off. Shocked, Penrose contacts his journalist friend Timothy Harewood to help him break Lloyd's resistance. Harewood soon finds that Lloyd's is tied in with all sorts of false reinsurance banking scams--but Harewood is murdered. Penrose's odyssey into the world of insurance scams takes him to fancy parties, underwriting rooms, docks all over the Channel, and back into wife Selina's arms, though she seems pretty dotty at times. As the story slowly reveals Penrose's party-loving father-in-law as the nasty behind the reinsurance schemes, a villain ready to use bombs or behead a woman, and even to murder his own daughter and son-in-law, the plotting deteriorates beyond any acceptable level of believability into sheer plodding hackery. Too bad, after such a rich opening and so many striking details through-out.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Viking