cover image Bamboo Cannon

Bamboo Cannon

Donald McCaig. Crown Publishers, $18.95 (233pp) ISBN 978-0-517-56933-7

A richly evoked Caribbean atmosphere and a fine ear for West Indian patois distinguish this entertaining odd-couple adventure by the author of The Man Who Made the Devil Glad. The misfits thrown together are Winston Riviere, native of the island of Dominica and pilot for a tiny shuttle service, and Carly Hollander, a foul-mouthed, pill-popping American accompanying her mother on a combined plastic surgery expedition and island vacation. Winston struggles to save enough money to marry his fiancee and buy a house, while Carly combs the island looking for a good time and a few extra Valiums. One night, she gets drunk and passes out in the hold of his boat; when she wakes, the two are alone on the open sea, heading into a hurricane, a local revolution and an unexpected relationship. The political upheaval that dominates the last third of the novel clashes with the lighter spirit of the earlier parts, and McCaig never manages to make credible Carly's transformation from a promiscuous, drug-addled racist to an intrepid high-seas adventuress, but the characterand the novelare unpredictable and engaging. (Feb.)