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Even the best of all possible worlds harbors crime, though Commander Layton's Kermadec Islanders are only victims: their life-sustaining rig Andromeda is overtaken en route to New Zealand by eight strange, rough passengers who had been Shipwrecked near the commune; now both boat and original crew are lost and Tom Layton fils is commissioned to find them. He's a British university graduate like his friend Michael, the titular orphan, and they're a self-consciously complementary team -- Tom the born leader, Michael unsure of himself but superbly resourceful in the unconventional situations that wilt Tom and confront them from here on. From, specifically, a twelve-day trip in a tiny launch. . . to, eventually, Angel Island, haven of smugglers, where they discover Andromeda rechristened Rome and near unrecognizable. They board her. In a weird and unflattering ethnic melange, Tom and Michael must isolate friends from foes and somehow gain control; thanks to college navigation studies Michael manages to divert the ship from its Haitian destination to Gibraltar and safety. The tedious, intricate, seesawing machinations are virtually -- unrelieved except by those accidents of circumstance that are a writer's prerogative and a reader's pet peeve: Mr. Scott doesn't know when to stop and falls just one coincidence short -- Michael never does locate his (also anonymous) father. . . but he will keep looking. The usual heroes and heroin again in a journeyman odyssey, perspiringly pretentious.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1971
Publisher: Chilton