Shipwreck survival tales continue to fascinate, both for the commonality of human endurance and for the uniqueness of each situation; Company's slender novel contains both. The rare appearance of Dr. Matthew Prendel at a faculty gathering to celebrate his promotion to Columbia University dean sets tongues wagging. Not only has his physical appearance totally changed, but he is reticent to discuss any details about his alleged shipwreck and five-year disappearance. Some argue he wasn't even Prendel, but when he falls ill years later, he finally relates his shipwreck story to a female friend. He had abandoned his surgeon's scapel for sailing, his real passion, with tragic consequences. After pirates attack his yacht and force him into the sea, he lands on a tiny island where he is tended to by Nelson Souza, the island's only other inhabitant. A strange co-existence begins with Souza, who is armed and has divided the island, forbidding Prendel to cross the boundaries or risk death. Alone, Prendel hones survival skills and obsesses about seeing Souza's side of the island and escaping. Company's polished prose and the cat and mouse game between the men rapidly move the plot to a surprise ending worthy of Hitchcock. (Nov).