cover image Sink or Swim

Sink or Swim

Gerald Hammond. St. Martin's Press, $19.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-312-15657-2

The latest in the prolific Hammond's series featuring Scottish Highlands gunsmith Keith Calder (after Hook or Crook, 1996) stretches a thin plot to display lore of such rarefied interest that all but the most rabid of gun and/or angling nut will surely quickly tire. This caper, concerning a fishing accident, is narrated by Wallace James, recent heart attack victim and partner in Calder's gunshop. Dead is Ken Berry, who drowned while fishing. The official report, which states that Colonel McInsch, who was fishing in the same river at the time, valiantly tried to save him is hard to believe, given that the two men were sworn enemies, owners of land abutting the same choice fishing spot and on opposite sides of a recent lawsuit concerning poisoned game birds. After numerous angina attacks, Wallace casts a fishy solution to the possible crime that relies on the methodology of tying lures. Hammond, who also writes the mystery series starring dog breeder John Cunningham, packs these pages with ponderous prose. He isn't always this ploddingly pedantic, but even his fans will dismiss this tedious tale. (May)