cover image Bloodknot


Sam Llewellyn, Llewellyn. Atria Books, $20 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-671-67046-7

Extensive nautical lore, a taut plot and copious helpings of dirty politics help distinguish this adventure. English journalist Bill Tyrrell gives up the writing game when he inherits an old-fashioned cutter, crewed by a motley collection of teenage deadbeats. When his boat's rudder catches on the corpse of a Soviet sailor in a Thames estuary, the ensuing publicity reflects badly on Bill, his young charges and the organization that employs him to teach sailing to troubled teens. It turns out that several of the crew members knew the dead man: two go into hiding, and one is shot full of heroin and murdered. After a car runs him down, Bill's dormant journalistic instincts kick in, and the chase is on. Llewellyn ( Dead Reckoning ) unleashes a barrage of suspicious types: Bill's politically minded brother, suddenly keen to sell his share of the boat; his occasional lover, suddenly keen to handle the sale; and an enigmatic Russian woman, suddenly keen on Bill. All are likely killers, but Llewellyn manages to surprise with a resolution plucked from out of nowhere. His previous nautical adventures have generally been slack, insular affairs whose characters obsess about boats, love and money (in that order). In this one, a subtext of international politics twists the tensions just a little bit tighter. ( Sept. )