Dorin’s debut is a high-seas thriller set largely on a ferry making a perilous journey from Anchorage to Seattle.
For more than 20 years, the Alaskan Eagle—an old WWII Navy tank landing ship converted into a commercial ferry—has been Capt. Homer Dixon’s home and the Gulf of Alaska, his backyard. The voyage from Anchorage to Seattle should be a routine one, but when old friend Davy Masters consigns a shipment of what is supposed to be 76 boxes of ocean survival suits to be delivered to Seattle, the voyage quickly turns deadly. A group of criminals from an unnamed Eastern European country are behind the mysterious shipment, and they’ve told Masters they’ll kill him and his family if anything goes wrong. To make matters worse, two of the criminals are on the ship posing as crewmen, and the crime boss’s yacht is following the Alaskan Eagle’s every move. Dixon and a small group of heroes—among them first mate Ernie McInnis and former Navy SEAL Nick Banner, who’s now head of an underwater construction company—attempt to save themselves and the innocent passengers before time runs out. Although pacing and action are impressive, the characters really fuel this story. Dorin excels at creating realistic, well-rounded men and women; even peripheral characters (like Matilda Burke, a young pregnant woman on the ship about to give birth to twins) are memorable. Narrative weaknesses are relatively trivial: e.g., awkward sex scenes (“her moist folds”) and the lack of comprehensive back story regarding the criminals’ endeavor. While Dorin’s debut has minor flaws, it is undeniably readable, powered by nonstop action and adventure, a cast of brilliantly developed and authentic characters, and plot twists around every corner.
Patrick O’Brian meets Lee Child in this slightly flawed page-turner that still holds up.