3 out of 4 stars
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Adrift by Charlie Sheldon, is a story of a group of sailors whose ship, the Seattle Express, catches fire and the captain feels he must abandon it for the sake of his crew. Unfortunately, they are in the North Pacific, it is December, and the seas are high. Escaping the ship plunges the crew into a desperate struggle. In such situations, there is no certainty of survival, but staying aboard the Seattle Express was no longer an option. If the power went out, launching the lifeboats with fire surrounding them would be impossible. Immediately upon launch, one boat to each side of the ship, they lose track of each other, and there is no communication between them. One suspects radio failure on one of the boats. Neither knows whether the other has survived.
It is also a story of the valiant recovery of the abandoned, fire-ravaged and still burning, ship by the crew of the Warhorse who risk their lives to earn salvage fees for being the first tug to arrive and the one to bring it in. The tug company, in desperate financial straits, must make the salvage or lose their business. They manage to get a fast start but soon find themselves in a race with tugs owned by the Buckhorn Corporation who also owned the Seattle Express. In the course of hooking up to the derelict ship, Larry, the head of the tug company is severely injured.
Sheldon shows patience in building this combination of stories, intertwining them while taking his characters through life’s ups and downs, facing near impossible odds and for the most part, overcoming them but not without costs. He has made this story fun, entertaining and action-packed. I enjoyed several things about Adrift: the short chapters, the fast pace, characters who came to life and the realistic situations that put me on the edge of my seat and had me hurting along with them.
This story has been well written and edited. The characterization is excellent, and the plot pulls a reader through the story to the ending long before he is ready.
I disliked that throughout, there is an underlying layer of something not right about the Buckhorn Corporation, from their attack on the surveyors looking for artifacts to the mysterious boxes in the tunnel of the ship, the threats to cut the tow line from the Warhorse, to an overall distrust by nearly everyone not of the corporation. Much hinting goes on, but nothing is ever explained or resolved.
There was another drawback for me. I found it annoying jumping from one character to another with each new chapter. This was especially true while visiting the lifeboat crew chiefs. I did not realize we were moving between the two different boats. Even so, once one of the crews made contact with the Coast Guard, things fell into place.
I rate Adrift a high 3 out of 4 and highly recommend it for anyone. Hopefully, there will be more to come for these characters, as the author has left a lot of openings to continue their stories. I will be looking for more from Charlie Sheldon.
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