RUN BEFORE THE WIND by Stuart Woods

RUN BEFORE THE WIND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Without the dark power of Chiefs (1982), Woods now mixes some uncoordinated suspense (IRA terrorists) into a bland coming-of-age novel--and, thanks largely to the locales and the yachting details, comes up with a pleasant, ambling, half-satisfying hybrid. It's the early 1970s, and law-school dropout Will Lee (son of a Chiefs character), who has trouble finishing things, heads for a wandering year-off in Europe. Soon, however, narrator Will, after impetuously saving a drifting yacht from wreckage in a harbor on the Isle of Wight, finds himself with new friends and a new sense of purpose: he's enchanted by good-looking British couple Mark and Anne Robinson--and delighted when they ask him to help in the building of a new super-yacht designed for single-handed racing. So off the three go to Cork, with financial backing from charismatic tycoon Derek Thrasher: Mark enjoys the boatyard work; he develops a sexual relationship with local girl Connie Lydon (though it's Mark's wife Anne he really yearns for); on a trip to London he's treated royally by Thrasher--and by sexy, seductive Lady Jane Berkeley. But, after heavy foreshadowing, troubles start brewing--because both Thrasher and Mark (an ex-Army chap who once killed a Provo lad in Belfast) are targets of the nasty, incognito local-IRA branch: there's some boatyard sabotage, a bomb-attempt or two, a dead IRA type found on the premises; Thrasher's financial reputation is undermined; Mark and Will must hide the almost-finished yacht to save it from bank repossession; when Mark suffers a leg injury, Will must singlehandedly sail to England. And finally, after Will's traumatic, disillusioning one-night-stand with Anne, he goes home to become a law-school star--but returns in time for a few quick closing chapters of melodramatic hash: the last flickers of IRA vengeance and violence (with an unsurprising unmasking); Anne's death; and Mark's entrance into the transatlantic solo-yacht race--a fatal run which Will will complete. Despite the flimsy, disjointed thriller-bits and the shallowness of Will's growing-up saga: a readable blend of adventure and sentiment, with an agreeable sprinkling of yacht lore (Woods is also the author of Blue Water, Green Skipper) and some nice coast/harbor scenery.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1983
Publisher: Norton