SHARK ISLAND
Joan Druett

 


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Allen & Unwin. This edition first published July 2007
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

SHARK ISLAND is the second book in the Wiki Coffin series. Wiki is the result of a romantic liaison between a Maori woman and an American ship builder. When he is a young teenager, Wikiís father takes him from New Zealand back to the US and arranges him a sailorís apprenticeship on an American whaler. The tough life gives Wiki superb seafaring skills, while his Polynesian background gives him the knowledge of many languages. It is his skill as a linguist which lands him a position on a ship in the U.S. Exploring Expedition that is travelling through the South Sea Islands. He is also a sheriff's agent authorized to act at sea as both a criminal investigator and law enforcement officer.

Following hard on the heels of the events in A WATERY GRAVE, Wiki and Captain George Rochester are teamed with the hot-blooded and violent Lieutenant Forsythe. The disunited trio are assigned to sail to Shark Island to investigate alleged pirate activity off the northeast coast of Brazil. The island is located directly on the route that the expedition will take to Rio de Janiero. When they arrive at the island they encounter a wrecked sealing ship on the shoals of the island. Then the dead body of the sealerís captain turns up with a dagger in his back. Forsythe is immediately suspected of the crime. Although the Lieutenant has proved himself to be more than capable of violence, Wiki believes he is innocent of this particular crime and sets about to prove Forsytheís innocence. Throw a beautiful young widow, a thuggish crew, and a valuable but missing cargo into the mix and you get a thrilling tale of adventure on the high seas.

Author Joan Druett, a maritime historian, writes in an easy-to-read manner and used her extensive knowledge of nautical history to write this exciting mystery that moves along at a cracking pace. Many of the characters and situations were inspired by real life characters and incidents she found in seafaring journals and memoirs. The plot kept me engrossed trying to figure out who did the deed, with lots of twists and turns before arriving at a very satisfactory resolution.

Sep 2007 review originally published on Murder and Mayhem

 

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