BEDEVILED SEA by Jerry Earl Brown


Fortune Favors the Bold
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In Brown’s (Snowmen, 1991, etc.) thriller, a man who can envision the locations of shipwrecks searches for treasure while dealing with Russians and an oil tycoon.

Kyle Dawton has had odd episodes of apparent precognition since childhood, but only a few have turned out to be accurate. He uses his ability to sense the locations of sunken vessels for Argos Salvage, which he owns and runs with his buddy, former SEAL Wayne Chizzick. Still, the company is in the red, so its chairman, ex-admiral Curt Chizzick, brings in investor Bill Cooper, whose daughter, Victoria, comes onboard as a new partner. She’s an archaeologist with her own team who aims to use the company’s resources to find valuable historical sites. Kyle’s latest vision, which seems to involve ghosts and a mermaid, also hints at another wreck (and possibly treasure). His “hunch” takes the crew to the Bermuda Triangle, which they find to be surprisingly crowded. The Russian military is in the area to find and return defector Pyotr Telasnikov, but the reasons why they want him aren’t immediately revealed. At the same time, the salvage team gets too close to oil well sites that were capped after an accident; JJ Oil CEO James Jessup Harwood III claims that he simply wishes them to stay capped, but he may have other motivations for having the team keep their distance. Brown keeps the story’s supernatural element ambiguous and sublimely understated; Kyle, for example, isn’t certain whether his vision of a ship going down during a storm is a past or future event—or perhaps both. Furthermore, the book grounds his ability in reality, implying that Kyle might be hallucinating from diving too deeply and experiencing nitrogen narcosis, which he’s endured twice before. There’s a plethora of characters in the novel, including pirates and hijackers, but thankfully, it’s easy to keep track of them all. There’s a bit of mystery, too: the Russians have to identify Telasnikov first before snatching him, and supposedly have a mole at JJ Oil. Brown sufficiently describes scenes set underwater and onboard vessels, but he shines brightest with his nautical-inspired metaphors; for instance, an irate Wayne “stomped the decks like peg-legged Ahab pacing The Pequod.”

A clever, sprightly tale, whether it’s set in, atop, or near the ocean.

Pub Date: July 10th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-4951-6764-5
Page count: 276pp
Publisher: Star Peak Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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