Salvage boat captain and sometime sleuth Seychelle Sullivan returns in Kling's follow-up to her well-received debut, Surface Tension,
this time to aid a frightened Haitian waif named Solange. Seychelle—who's plying the South Florida waters on her tugboat, the Gorda
, with her mechanic cum lover, B.J.—discovers the girl on a swamped boat and makes saving her, both from danger and from immigration officials, a personal crusade. The recent murder of some Haitian refugees and a creepy visitor to Solange's hospital room convince Seychelle that the frightened girl is in peril. More challenges come from tough guys with various agendas. Detective Victor Collazo, with whom Seychelle has a combative history, seems determined to thwart her effort and return the child. Border Patrol Agent Russ Elliott presses a similar agenda, though Seychelle's lawyer and best friend Jeannie does her best to parry his thrusts. Retired DEA agent Joe D'Angelo conveniently arrives to perk up Seychelle's libido (B.J. notwithstanding) and address some unanswered questions about her dead father, with whom he worked, and a surprise visit by Seychelle's black-sheep brother, Pit, threatens even more disruption. Savvy readers will be two steps ahead of the plot, which features several genre set pieces, but Kling writes with crisp assurance, especially about life in coastal South Florida, and her supporting cast, if crowded, is colorful. Agent, Judith Weber.
5-city author tour. (Oct.)