SHOT IN THE DARK by Tony Gibbs


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New nautical Baywatch-with-boats series arrives with a cargo of romance, offshore drug smuggling, and intricate sailing lore. Gibbs (Capitol Offense, 1995, etc.) teams up Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol officer Neal Machado Donahoe, a handsome, impetuous loner, with knockout blond Coast Guard Lieutenant Tory Lennox. Set in and around the tricky Santa Barbara waterways, this reasonably shipshape whodunit casts off when a storm-tossed drug intercept aboard a DEA boat ends in a shotgun blast. While Lennox joins the Coast Guard's search for the now-missing craft, Donahoe indulges in ""demanding, even painful, passion to the hilt"" with his lover-of-the-month, Jannice McKay, on her live-aboard cabin cruiser. Her husband, sleazy real-estate speculator Rudy, seems content to let his spouse romp on water while he pursues amorous adventures on land. Jannice, however, dies when an arsonist's bomb turns her boat into a fireball. Donohoe, on board during the explosion, heroically pilots the burning craft away from the Santa Barbara yacht basin--then becomes a prime suspect for the murder, even though he has no motive. Suspended from his harbor cop's job, he's left with plenty of time not only to beat the land-based cops to the killer but to help Lennox survive the bureaucratic backstabbing among the Coast Guard, US Customs, the DEA--even a nosey congresswoman--and locate the sunken DEA hulk. Gibbs shows a notable appreciation of sailboat specifics, boating lore, and marina denizens, but his formulaic plot offers few surprises. Still, acceptable regional series opener for sailboat aficionados.

Pub Date: July 17th, 1996
Page count: 328pp
Publisher: Mysterious