A Bottle of Rum
A Spider John Mystery #3
Seventh Street Books, November 2019
Spider John Rush and his sidekick Odin are pirates in the process of retiring from the business. What with one thing or another, Spider John has decided to become an upstanding member of society. No more riding the bounding main, pillaging and killing. Or so he says. Odin not so much. But when the innkeeper where they do their serious drinking is murdered right under their noses, they can’t help becoming involved. John has discovered the murder weapon to be a throwing knife he made and gave to a young pirate friend named Hob. Hob became enthralled with the notorious Anne Bonny and sailed away to further adventure in piracy. The thing is, Spider John caught up with the murderer, and it wasn’t Hob. So where is his friend, and why did that man have his knife?
A naturally noticing and curious man, Spider John means to find out. Perforce, Odin goes along with him, bellyaching all the way.
Soon they find themselves in a predicament at what seems to be an asylum for the insane and the sick. There is a cemetery with several fresh graves, as well. Since they only ever see one of the patients, a young woman obsessed with death, John doesn’t know for certain if Hob is shut up somewhere within the creaky manor house or if he inhabits one of those graves. And when confronted with Half-Jim, a one-armed, one-legged, all the way crazy pirate who’d as soon kill a man as look at him, finding Hob becomes a real problem. Apparently, Half-Jim has set his sights on Spider John to add to the body count.
The dialogue is wonderfully written for an entertaining bunch of foul-mouthed pirates. The action proceeds at a goodly pace. I often forgot this was supposed to be a mystery as I got wound up in the actions of the worst bunch of ruffians a reader ever met. A fun read.
Reviewed by Carol Crigger, January 2020.
Author of Five Days, Five Dead, Hereafter and Hometown Homicide.