cover image LEAVING PROTECTION

LEAVING PROTECTION

Will Hobbs, Author . HarperCollins $15.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-68

Hobbs's (Far North ) nautical thriller brims with detail about the fishing life and weaves in historical facts as well. Sixteen-year-old Robbie leaves his family and their self-sufficient but poverty-bound home in Port Protection, Alaska, with hopes of becoming a deckhand on a salmon troller. Times are tough and the king salmon season brief, so Robbie cannot afford to be picky about any offers. He ends up aboard the Storm Petrel with the gruff Tor, a "highliner" (successful fisherman) who has worked alone for as long as anyone can remember. But Robbie soon learns that while the captain is indeed interested in catching salmon, he is secretly even more interested in a series of antique Russian plaques that were buried around the periphery of Alaska to claim the land hundreds of years before. An over-long history lesson in the middle of the novel puts a temporary brake on the narrative impetus, but the pace picks up again when Tor's conflicted nature reveals itself more clearly. On the one hand, he is a sympathetic victim of circumstance; on the other, he appears willing to act ruthlessly to protect his own interests. Or could Robbie be misreading Tor entirely? Robbie's doubts build to a climactic finale involving a dramatic and fateful storm at sea, grippingly rendered. Fans of maritime tales will relish the atmosphere and the bursts of action. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)