cover image The Lobster Kings

The Lobster Kings

Alexi Zentner. Norton, $26.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-393-08957-8

Zentner’s second novel (after Touch) is brutal and beautiful. Heroine Cordelia Kings is a member of the legendary lobster-fishing Kings family, which has been plying their trade for 300 years on Loosewood Island, Maine. Her family line began with painter and fisherman Brumfitt Kings, who believed his wife was a gift from the sea. Gifts come with a price, and there is a legend that the Kings suffer from a curse; the curse appears to be real when Cordelia’s brother, Scotty, dies (he was expected to be heir to the family lobster company, but, as it turns out, wasn’t the waterman Cordelia is). As times change, so do threats. Lobstermen from nearby James Harbor moved into the Loosewood fishing territory some time ago; now they’re also running drugs. But Loosewood’s small population (including Cordelia’s two younger sisters and her tyrannical father) can’t wait around for the authorities to react; they take care of things themselves, igniting a spark that starts the book’s escalating conflict. Zentner gets the reader to root for Cordelia very early on. His fusion of myth and mission, fury and beauty, as well as the palpable sense of place in this unique corner of the world add up to a memorable tale. (May)