cover image Crackdown


Bernard Cornwell. HarperCollins Publishers, $18.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-016388-4

Cornwell has written effectively of modern ocean sailing ( Wildtrack ; Killer's Wake ) and military maritime adventure (the Sharpe series), but the combination doesn't succeed here. British ex-marine Nick Breakspear, who skippers charter boats out of the Bahamas, dreams of refurbishing a classic boat and sailing off with beautiful Ellen, ship cook and practicing celibate. On the verge of realizing his fantasy, he agrees to take the cokehead son and daughter of a U.S. senator on a cruise to kick their habits. The son forces a rendezvous at sea with vicious traficantes who sink the boat, kill a crew member and almost kill Nick and Ellen. Back on land Nick is persuaded by the senator, a presidential contender, to join a three-man raid against the heavily guarded island stronghold of the drug lords. Except for some strong passages on cocaine addiction, most of the book is unpersuasive, the characters almost cartoonish. 35,000 first printing; $60,000 ad/promo. (Sept.)