A Nice Little Beach Town

Elizabeth C. Ward, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (246p) ISBN 978-0-312-02621-9
Greed, power and the complexity of human relationships are explored in Ward's ( Coast Highway 1 ) skillfully written novel, a standout for its compelling characters. In the small beach town of White Bay, Calif., retiree Sven Finster asks his tenant, high school English teacher Jim Cairns, to go for a night-time boatride to the estuary. Jim refuses, but when Finn's body is found the next day, ap parently a suicide, he believes that Finn's death is related to whatever he had wanted to show him. One of Jim's students, David McIan, who had been befriended by the elderly fisherman, later turns in an essay focusing on Finn's death. Jim suspects that the teenager shared Finn's secret, but David refuses to talk to him. A remorseful Jim starts investigating, and discovers a cache of drugs in Finn's house that ties his reprehensible son-in-law, Sylvus, to a drug ring. Meanwhile, Finn has bequeathed his beachfront property to Jim and his ex-wife, Kate, an artist and champion of lost causes. His life in danger from the enraged Sylvus, Jim works desperately to uncover the sordid elements that menace his ``nice little beach town.'' (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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