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SIREN'S LULLABY by William P. Kennedy

SIREN'S LULLABY

By William P. Kennedy

Pub Date: May 16th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-15658-8
Publisher: St. Martin's

 After his well-received lifeboat saga Dark Tide (1994), whoduniteer Kennedy offers another salty tale of yachting mayhem and misadventure, this time set mostly on land, in Bermuda and around the office of a New England hi-tech boutique yachtmaker. Romantically rugged Robert Cramm's boatbuilding business is on the skids, and, even if winning a prestigious Bermuda yacht race won't save the company from short orders and leaky finances, Cramm just has to accept the challenge. His newest yacht, Siren, sporting a risky top-heavy hull, was designed by brooding genius Sean Patton, whose previous competition-boat sank ingloriously. Cramm's best friend and partner, George Williamson, wants to sell the business to a souless, but successful, competitor, Vector, owned by the shadowy Philip McKnight. Meanwhile, Cramm's wife, Cheryl, is all set to crew with her husband on the most important race of his life when their precocious child, Rachel, falls sick. Cheryl gets a flash of separation-anxiety and bows out of the race, leaving Beth Hardway, Cramm's alleged mistress and a reasonably good sailor (even if she did accidentally kill one of her crew in an earlier race) to fill Cheryl's Top-Siders. But Siren never reaches the finish line: Some shattered wreckage and Beth's charred, three- months pregnant corpse are fished out of the Bermuda Triangle. Later, Cheryl gets a creepy phone call hinting that her husband may have faked his death; the family's au pair acts weird; and then this potboiler version of Robert Stone's Outerbridge Reach swiftly runs aground. Woman-in-peril plot tricks abound as Cheryl, whose anxieties are passed off as the result of too many secretly drugged drinks, mistakes good guy Sean Patton for the villain, frets about her daughter, and conveniently blunders into a Fiberglas-crunching finish. A briskly told, somewhat placeless Clue-game melodrama with nautical flourishes and a few Crichtonesque fun facts about the boatbuilding biz.