A Nova Scotia waterman risks his life to salvage an abandoned vessel, then finds that no good deed goes unpunished.
Phillip Scarnum ekes out a marginal living delivering other people’s boats. In the middle of taking the schooner Cerberus to its owner, Halifax dentist Dr. Greely, he comes on the Kelly Lynn, a lobster boat stuck on a reef off Cape Sambro. Though it’s blowing a gale and he’s alone aboard the Cerberus, he succeeds in extricating the Kelly Lynn from the Sambro Ridge and tows her into the Chester boatyard his old friend Charlie Isenor owns, then buys and drinks a quart of Crown Royal in what turn out to be his last quiet hours. The lobster boat’s owner, it turns out, is Bobby Falkenham, the high-rolling businessman whose acquisitions include Scarnum’s ex-lover Karen. And although he’s willing to pay top dollar as a salvage fee, and pay it fast, the deal founders when the body of fisherman James Zinck washes ashore, shot in the back. Jimmy had taken the Kelly Lynn out on her last voyage; he’d specifically asked Doug Amos, his usual fishing partner, to stay behind; and there’s every indication that he’d been using the boat to run drugs. Although the local Mounties arrest Scarnum for cocaine possession and murder, he faces even bigger problems: the appearance of Jimmy’s wife, Angela Rodenhiser, who isn’t sure whether the baby she’s carrying is Jimmy’s, Falkenham’s, or Scarnum’s, and a pair of Mexican enforcers convinced that Scarnum’s salvage operation included the cocaine the Kelly Lynn was carrying and determined to get back it from him one way or another.
Maher (Deadline, 2013) keeps the pot boiling by forgoing character development, moral complexity, and plot twists in order to churn out one fast-paced action scene after another. It’s all one-dimensional but highly effective if you’re in the mood.