4 out of 4 stars
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This is a review of Adrift by Charlie Sheldon.
Steve awakens in a terrible storm to the sound of the fire alarm. As captain of the cargo ship Seattle Express, he directs his crew in searching for the fire. Third mate Anne goes below while William checks the wheelhouse. It soon becomes clear that the fire has been burning for a long time without being noticed. Steve knows that if he waits too long to give the order to abandon ship that the fire will have reached the area where the lifeboats are kept and the entire crew will be trapped. He reports the ship's position to the owners at Buckhorn and then gives the order to abandon ship. Twenty crew members split into two lifeboats with Steve in command of one with the second mate Fred, and a second commanded by the first mate Randall and the third mate Anne. Abandoning ship in a winter storm off the coast of Alaska is risky and Steve knows it. Will the Coast Guard be able to find them in their lifeboats before they run out of fuel or freeze in the harsh temperatures?
Louise and Larry own a maritime salvage company in the port of Sol Duc, Washington. She hears the call from Buckhorn come over the radio giving the position of the Seattle Express which is miraculously still afloat after a fire. Struggling with financial problems and marital problems both, Larry and Louise could use a good pay day. They know that it will be a long, difficult trip up to the Seattle Express in bad weather in their old salvage ship Warhorse but they have little choice if they want to avoid losing their company. They round up a crew and set off on a mission to reach the Seattle Express and successfully bring her under tow before the bigger tugs sent from Buckhorn can get there.
Buckhorn doesn't just own ships. They are trying to expand into Sol Duc, buying up land in order to support a mining operation that they want to start. The problem is, the substance that they want to mine is on lands that are sacred to the local tribes and the company is having a difficult time getting approval. William's daughter Myra is one of the people determining if Buckhorn should be given approval to mine in the sacred lands. The previous year, Myra, William and some friends of theirs had gone camping in the sacred lands to find evidence of artifacts being located there. Unfortunately, while they were there they had an altercation with a group of Buckhorn employees and one man, Pete, got shot in the leg. Pete wants to be a park ranger, but for now he is stuck working security for Buckhorn while his leg heals.
Myra knows that there are artifacts that would be damaged by mining, but she can't prove it. Will Buckhorn get approval from the tribe to begin their mining? After hearing the news about her father's ship, Myra has even more to deal with. The Coast Guard has been unable to locate the second lifeboat because of bad weather. If he is alive, Myra knows her father must be somewhere on the island of Haida Gwaii where he was born. It is a rugged, unforgiving place. If the Coast Guard cannot find her father, perhaps she and her friends Sarah, Tom and Sergei will have to take matters into their own hands. Will they find William and his crewmates before it's too late?
I absolutely loved this book! It is well-written, engaging and really draws you in. The nautical terms used are just enough to keep authenticity without overwhelming or confusing readers. The characters are well-developed and you quickly become invested in their stories. I love the descriptiveness of the author, you really feel as though you are right there on the heaving decks of a ship during a storm or braving the winter cold along with the crew. "They were like ghosts, everyone wandering through the snow, feet buried in a carpet, flakes swirling on gusts of wind."
This book is the second in what will be a series. The first book, Strong Heart, focuses more on the story of the trip to the sacred tribal lands which is referenced in Adrift. While Adrift works perfectly well as a standalone book I'm sure that reading Strong Heart would lend more background information. As i said before, I really loved this book and it is difficult to pick out anything that I didn't like about it. The only thing that I can say is a potential negative is that there are a lot of characters to follow and it can make the book feel a bit broken up because each chapter jumps to a different character. Also, the ending is a bit abrupt but that is probably just because this is a second book and the author wanted to leave plenty of material for the next.
Overall, I would give this book 4 out of 4 stars. It was truly excellent and I will definitely read it a second time and be looking for the third book when it is finished. The editing was very good and there were very few typos. I think that this book could appeal to many people, anyone who loves sailing, adventure and maybe even mystery genre books would love it. So, give Adrift by Charlie Sheldon a try, I promise you won't be able to put it down!
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