Emile Capouya, Author . Lyons $16.95 (120p) ISBN 978-1-58574-664-4

Capouya (In the Sparrow Hills) once again draws on his WWII experience as a merchant marine in this short novel about the wanderings of a highly principled and combative American merchant seaman in his 20s named Mike. The story opens with Mike stranded in France shortly after WWII, having had a falling out with the agent who gets him assignments. Bad luck continues to dog him when he journeys to Genoa in search of a berth on a ship. He is mistaken for a murder suspect, interrogated and beaten up by the police. Mike finally gets a break when he lands a new job as the captain of a ship running contraband cigarettes from France to Italy. But trouble arises when he hears horror stories from the vessel's previous captain, MacNamara, and Mike soon discovers that cigarettes aren't the only things being smuggled on his ship: he's unwittingly been transporting Nazi officers. Capouya poses provocative questions about the wages of behaving decently in a corrupt world, and his lean, sinewy prose giving the meandering narrative intensity. Mike is well drawn as an honorable but mercurial man, likely to take reckless risks as long as his efforts are for the side of justice. He's a compelling, nostalgic noir hero, but sometimes his righteousness is self-righteous; Capouya overemphasizes Mike's moral integrity by exhaustively detailing his various quarrels with ex-captains and company officers. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
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