A fast-moving legal thriller that’s resolved on the high seas instead of in a courtroom.
Near Puerto Rico, the sloop Satin Lady calls in a mayday. The Coast Guard finds its wreck but no survivors. Len Sloane and Erica Crossland had been onboard and are presumed dead. Meanwhile, Beth Swahn, an intensely competitive young attorney working in her retired stepfather's law firm, has dinner with Chun Keun "C.K." Leung, a wealthy Taiwanese client, to celebrate winning a big case. But she realizes that C.K. thinks his firm won only $35 million and isn't aware that they also received $70 million in punitive damages. As obligated, she sets him straight. At first, C.K. brushes it off as a likely bookkeeping error. Beth suspects that Sloane, C.K.’s deceased business associate, did not properly transfer the money but had ripped him off instead. She tells her boss she might be left “holding the bag” for a possible malpractice suit. Indeed, C.K. gives Beth’s firm two months to recover the missing money or be sued. Beth doesn’t trust her client at all: “Secrecy and surprise were his modus operandi,” and “truth was irrelevant.” Conducting her own investigation, she begins to think Sloane may still be alive. She meets Sloane’s estranged son, Bob Talcourt, who seems like a decent man. The story is fun from the start, yet there’s no real action until an 18-wheeler runs Beth and her companions off the road nearly halfway into the book. Then she fights off muggers, and Talcourt’s apartment is trashed. The case races to an out-of-court settlement as Beth, her mother, and stepfather sail their boat, Red Sky, across the Caribbean to catch the sloop Atrophy on its attempted escape to Panama. Stormy weather and entertaining sailing scenes follow in their wake.
A dandy debut novel featuring lawyers with both integrity and nautical skills.