4 out of 4 stars
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Adrift by Charlie Sheldon begins with alarms, smoke, fire, 30-foot seas and 70-knot winds; and the pace of the novel just keeps ramping up from there. This gripping story keeps the reader hoping and praying until the very last sentence.
Just south of the Gulf of Alaska, 100 miles from the nearest land, Steve, the captain of the Seattle Express awakens in the middle of the night to find his giant container ship unexplainably on fire. Very quickly it is determined that they need to abandon ship, and he and his crew of twenty split into two, enclosed lifeboats, and drop into the cold, angry sea. They immediately lose contact with each other.
Meanwhile, Louise and Larry, the owners of a salvage operation and an ancient salvage tug, Warhorse, hear the recovery call. Hoping this will be the job to save their failing business, they gather a crew, and rush to be the first tug to the abandoned ship, despite the anger seething through their marriage.
Additional points of views add dimension to the story. Pete, a security guard for Buckthorn Corp, the owner of the Seattle Express and a large mining developer, offers a unique perspective. Myra, the daughter of one of the crew, and an anthropologist actively fighting Buckthorn, gives a taste of the dread and anxiety felt by those waiting for the lost to be found. Viewpoints are also offered from various crew-members in the lifeboat and on the tug, as fear mounts and tragedy strikes.
Adrift follows characters who were originally introduced in Sheldon’s previous book, Strong Heart, which I have not read yet but have already downloaded to my kindle. Sheldon skillfully covers the past, so that this novel can be enjoyed without having read the previous one.
I appreciated how Sheldon’s adept use of minor players, whose lives are touched by the accident, creates depth and keeps the story moving where it might have wallowed in despair if only the main characters were used.
I don’t know if Sheldon has another book planned following this one, but I was frustrated by some of the details that were never resolved: what caused the fire? Would the mine move ahead? I also would have liked more closure at the end. It was an amazing build-up but the words “The End” came as a shock before I was ready for them.
Despite my grievance with the ending, this was still a really well-crafted novel, which I read in one day (ok, and most of the night). I am glad to give it a rating of 4 out of 4 stars and look forward to reading other titles by this author.
This book would be a great read for anyone who enjoys sea adventure with a touch of native mysticism. It would be appropriate for any age, teen and above.
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