If YA author Schwandt's first foray into adult fiction pays too explicit an homage to John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee, the novel makes nice use of Wisconsin's watery Door County peninsula. Schoolteacher JP Griffin, who has fled to Door County to escape the workaday world, decides to spend his summer cruising Lake Michigan. He buys a boat, Siren Song , which previously belonged to a dead cop and contains a cache of secrets as well as a box of Travis McGee mysteries. Tapes and notes he finds aboard Siren Song lead Griffin toward a past crime and into present danger while others seek the boat's secrets. The McGee novels provide Griffin with not only escapist reading but a template for his own actions as he continuously wonders how McGee would handle one challenge or another. Like McGee, Griffin faces a moral dilemma, temptation, grave danger and a beautiful woman. And while Griffin isn't as suave or confident as his hero, he acquits himself well. If Griffin returns for another adventure, hopefully he'll be able to shed his over-reliance on McGee and stand on his own. Agent, Mary Lee Laitsch at Authentic Creations Literary Agency. (Sept. 1)
Forecast: A blurb from Judith Guest, plus hand-selling to Travis McGee fans, should give a lift. Schwandt's Guilt Trip (1990) was an Edgar finalist.
Release date: 06/01/2004