Sail Into Treachery
A Jamie Sharpe Adventure
Gary R. Bush
40 Press, March 2016
Although this debut novel is aimed at a young adult readership, nothing in its style, subject matter or plot in any way restricts its audience. The story is presented in the rousing style of a Patrick O’Brien, and draws nicely on the author’s meticulous research in the post-revolutionary years when America was a young nation, just coming into its own as a maritime power. The novel calls to mind Arthur Ransome’s fine boating series about the Swallows and the Amazons, set in England in the early Twentieth Century.
Jamie Sharpe is all of fifteen growing up at the turn of the Nineteenth Century. He’s already been to sea with his merchant father and experienced the terrors of sea battles. Now, at the behest of his far-seeing family, he’s finishing an advanced high school course of study that blends cultural studies with several languages and the practical skills that any young man growing up in the rough-and-tumble mercantile world of the commercial harbor of Boston will find necessary.
His father is away in the China Trade and financial troubles loom over the Sharpe family. This sets young Jamie on an exciting if terrifying adventure in which he faces murder, kidnapping, slavery, storms at sea, and more than one kind of death. The dialogue enhances the rollicking sense of adventure though and Jamie and his friends are able to survive through wit, intelligence and force of arms. I recommend this novel as a fast, enjoyable adventure, likely to be the first of an enduring series.
The Musubi Murder
A Professor Molly Mystery #1
Five Star, July 2015
A classically framed and realized light murder mystery. It does offer a clever mis-direction. The setting, Hawaii, is well-limned and readers will delight in many of the idiosyncrasies of behavior, language and descriptions of the settings.
The primary action location, a small business college on the Big Island, where our accused protagonist teaches, is apparently struggling at all levels, from its administration right down to an absence of adequate janitorial services. The private college is beset by a lack of funding which leads to some compromising of academic standards and practices. Against this setting, enhanced by the usual wrangling and maneuvering of tenured and untenured faculty, financial supporters are naturally carefully handled and even cash contributions from thugs like Johnny Tanaka are welcomed.
Of course there is a murder, false accusations, the mystery of a purloined skull, an itinerant unclaimed suitcase, romance and some sparkling dialogue. The pace of the unraveling is a little ragged at times, but for readers looking for a light murder mystery, here’s an intriguing entry.