Until the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead by S. Thomas Russell (2014; G.P. Putnam’s Sons; $28)
If you like C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian, you won’t be able to put down this fourth installment in a series of historical maritime novels that follow the exploits of Captain Charles Hayden. Canadian author Russell has captured all the action and nuances of the great days of sail in a Caribbean setting, at a time when empires were fighting over possession of islands and plantation slaves were in revolt.
Make Westing & Other Tales of Sea and Sail* by Jack London (2015; New Street Communications; $12.99)
As a teenage oyster thief on San Francisco Bay in the early 1890s, young Jack London reckoned he’d be dead or jailed by 21. Luckily, London survived his early indiscretions and became a legendary teller of epic outdoor tales. In this compilation, editor Edward Renehan’s introduction puts London’s nautical works into historical perspective, and the essays, short stories and book excerpts that follow showcase the celebrated author’s firm grasp of bluewater sailing.
Night Watch by Linda Hall (2014; Alexandria Publishing Group; paperback $10.99; e-book $4.99)
What is it about Maine island mysteries that is so compelling? For sailors, this novel (written by a cruising sailor), set in one of the world’s favorite cruising destinations, has it all: a nautical focus, superb writing, an intricate plot involving yacht captains (including the main character, Em, a woman), a close-knit boating community, and murder on board a billionaire’s super-deluxe Morris 52. Revealing the plot in any form will include spoilers; suffice it to say that cleverly disguised nefarious characters and devious deeds abound, and you’ll be hard-pressed to guess who the culprits are until the book’s dynamic conclusion. Very highly recommended. Warning: impossible to put down until you finish it!
–Lynda Morris Childress
The Rocks by Peter Nichols (2015; Riverhead Books; $27.95)
The Fates come into play early and forcefully in The Rocks, Peter Nichols’ odyssey of a novel that unfolds amid the olive groves and rocky shores of the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. The story opens in 2005, when a once-married couple meet by chance at the market. It’s one of the few encounters since their honeymoon sail 50 years earlier, which ended abruptly on the island, along with their marriage. A brief argument turns quickly tragic when they stumble and both fall into the sea. It’s at this point that Nichols launches a journey back through time and the interwoven lives of two families held together, yet kept apart, by chance. It’s a lovely voyage through romance and doubt, missed opportunities and unexpected twists, one that you’ll want to savor as much for the passage as for the conclusion. It’s a book to pick up when there’s time to stop and enjoy every masterful word along the way as you wait to see if in the end, love can prevail.