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Riding high on the widespread raves for his delightful debut, Madeleine's Ghost (1995), Girardi offers up a tale of modern pirates and the slave trade that isn't without its charms, though falling well short of the mark left by its predecessor. Wilson Lander is caught in a double bind: Not only does he find his brokerage job unfulfilling, but he also lives with a constant fear of imminent disaster (born from watching helplessly as a child while his mother died in a freak accident). When the copper-haired Cricket enters his life, seducing him and then tempting him to sign on as a cook for a world cruise on a billionaire's state-of-the-art yacht, Wilson goes along with her, dumping his long-term girlfriend (who's also his boss) via a phone call. Cricket proves to be a proverbial siren, however, when pirates capture the yacht off the coast of Africa and the pirate captain turns out to be her father. She saves Wilson from a walk on the plank by claiming him as her prize, then, against Daddy's wishes, persuades him to marry her by making him believe that only he can save her from a life of piracy and ill-gotten gain. But when she proposes that they go on a few more slaving ventures, to build up a nest egg that will allow them to retire comfortably in Paris, Wilson balks, ultimately ruining a highly lucrative mission involving Pygmy women by setting them free and killing Cricket's father. Captured by the slavers and abandoned by Cricket, he escapes with the help of unlikely allies, who aid him in the utter destruction of the pirate base, allowing him to return to his former life (and girlfriend) with his conscience clean. Colorful scenes and romantic themes ensure a number of appealing moments, but, unfortunately, the implausibilities of this good-man-vs.-evil-empire saga undermine any sustained impact.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0385319525
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Delacorte