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The late McNamara wrote passably well about international financial wheeling-dealing (The Money Maker, 1972), but this last novel is a decidedly leaden-footed thriller about a Massachusetts fisherman after more than scrod. Mike Flaherty runs a fishing company out of Nahant, but his main claim to fame is the fact that Giovanni Barerra--octogenarian head of the Northeastern Mafia--is his father-in-law. When Giovanni speaks, Mike listens, and that's how Mike becomes the central figure in an enormous cocaine-smuggling operation, bringing in millions of dollars worth of dope on his fishing boats. For a while, Mike prospers, and even falls in love--with Anne Raimond, blue-blooded wife of stuffy Boston Brahmin David. All begins to fall apart, however, when David has Mike trailed by a private cop, who discovers the Mafia connection, thus making Barerra very angry: David is blown up on his yacht. The Coast Guard and DEA now close in, and Mike is captured red-handed. Will he risk his life and rat on the Barerras? The author first gives a heavy-handed lecture on drugs (the feds take Mike on a tour of a detox center), and then Mike gets off on an absurd technicality. Barerra has a fatal stroke, leaving Mike free to divorce his wife and marry Anne, even though the Mafia takes one last potshot at him. In all, an amateurish effort. As heroes, Anne and Mike are only slightly less smarmy than the villains, and McNamara's prose (""Theirs was lust at first sight"") is forgettable.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1987
Publisher: Dodd, Mead