cover image The Western Limit of the World

The Western Limit of the World

David Masiel, . . Random, $24.95 (290pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-6162-4

Most of this nautical action-adventure takes place aboard the Elisabeth , née the Tarshish , a chemical tanker facing an imminent date with the junkyard. The ship has been commandeered by seaman Harold Snow and first mate Charlie Bracelin to make a highly profitable sale of goods to a West African concern. Snow is a grizzled World War II veteran haunted by memories of his sinful sea-faring life. He is in love with Elisabeth, a headstrong woman 30 years his junior for whom he has renamed the ship. But the crew is joined by a young newcomer who strikes up a relationship with Elisabeth, complicating Snow's personal and professional affairs. While Masiel's book is fast-paced, it occasionally sacrifices coherence for effect. Basic information, like the nature of the impending sale, or Snow's backstory, is left vague, sometimes making for a frustrating read. But Snow and his fellow sailors are born wheeler-dealers, taking calamity with a grain of salt and calmly proceeding to plan B. Masiel does succeed in conveying the danger and adventure of the contemporary nautical life, with all its romance and unpredictability. (Dec.)