MAELSTROM by Sam Llewellyn


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 Droll wit and slick pacing keep this rousing tale of high-seas intrigue afloat long after predictability has consigned many others of its ilk to Davey Jones's bookshelf. Llewellyn (Dead Eye, 1991, etc.) saddles his protagonist, former eco-warrior and old guard socialist Fred Hope, with a load of troubles. As the proprietor of a recreational North Sea whaling charter (cause enough for concern), Fred has a lot on his mind: His beloved Uncle Ernie, framed for dealing arms to the Sinn Fein, apparently died while escaping from a police car; his wife, Helen, paralyzed while fighting whalers with Fred, is growing ever more distant; and her stepbrother, money-grubbing no-account Hugo Twiss, starts all the trouble by making his and Fred's boat, the Straale, available to sportsmen with a taste for fresh blubber. Organizing the hunt with Hugo is Thor Landsman, a Nazi holdover from Norway's Quisling days who is purported to be Hermann Goering's godson. These two uneasy comrades do plan to lead a hunt, but they are after prey of a different sort: the Amber Saloon, a room from the Tsar's palace made entirely of precious amber, and a legendary Aryan artifact that must be liberated from Russian captivity--at least, that's what Landsman would have Hugo believe. Sensing Hugo is in over his head, Fred agrees, at Helen's behest, to go along to keep him out of trouble and secretly foil the hunt. One of Landsman's many partners in crime, an ex-KGB man named Colonel Gruskin, is supposedly arranging to have the amber delivered to the expedition as it steams north. But something else is in those crates, and with Hugo as their unsuspecting mule, Landsman, Gruskin, and Chamounia (a cohort with connections to Islamic terrorists) plan to use it to carry out the old Nazi vendetta against the Jews. But not if Fred has anything to say about it... Sometimes confusing, frequently surprising, always entertaining.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-671-78995-3
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1994


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