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A Deadly Silver Sea
     

A Deadly Silver Sea

4.1 14
by Bob Morris
 

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The Royal Star, the most exclusive cruise ship in the world, has just set sail from Miami on its inaugural voyage. For the hundred or so notable and well-heeled passengers, including Zack Chasteen, and his wife, Barbara, the itinerary is a secret and the week ahead promises to be an ultra-indulgent tropical sojourn.
But just an hour out of port, gunmen

Overview

The Royal Star, the most exclusive cruise ship in the world, has just set sail from Miami on its inaugural voyage. For the hundred or so notable and well-heeled passengers, including Zack Chasteen, and his wife, Barbara, the itinerary is a secret and the week ahead promises to be an ultra-indulgent tropical sojourn.
But just an hour out of port, gunmen take over the Royal Star, killing most of the officers and sequestering passengers throughout the ship. Not only is Zack separated from Barbara, he has another worry —Barbara is eight months pregnant with their first child and could go into labor at any moment. As Zack and his fellow captives struggle to get an upper hand, the ship's hijackers offer few clues to their motives. Maybe it's a simple kidnap/extortion plot. Or maybe the hijackers are bent on more devious ends – using the Royal Star as a giant torpedo to blow up another cruise ship. Either way, Zack must figure out a way to stop them--while keeping himself and his wife alive.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A luxury cruise runs afoul of a terrorist plot in the less than stellar fourth entry in Morris's Edgar-nominated series featuring jack-of-all-trades Zack Chasteen (after Bermuda Schwartz). Chasteen, a former pro football player and ex-con who now runs a Florida palm tree nursery, and his eight-month pregnant significant other, travel magazine owner Barbara Pickering, are among the high-class crowd aboard the Royal Star, making its inaugural voyage to an unknown destination. Soon after the ship leaves Miami, gunmen mow down most of the crew, then separate the men and the women. Chasteen rallies his colleagues to fight back, but ends up overboard, where he draws on his Boy Scout training to survive. Morris ratchets up the tension by having Barbara go into labor amid the gunfire and explosions. Hollywood films like Speed 2 have effectively used analogous story lines, but Morris fails to replicate their tension and pacing.(Dec.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429983419
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
11/25/2008
Series:
Zack Chasteen Series , #4
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
459,713
File size:
547 KB

Read an Excerpt

A Deadly Silver Sea


By Bob Morris

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2008 Bob Morris
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-8341-9


CHAPTER 1

The topic of conversation was boob jobs. And Barbara Pickering thought the bejeweled matron sitting at a table next to ours was too old for one.

"I mean really, she must be every day of seventy," Barbara said. "It looks creepy."

"Like someone erected a pup tent on her chest," I said.

"Probably brand-new. Bought just for the cruise."

"Safety measure," I said. "The ship goes down, she can use them as flotation devices."

We were two hours out of port aboard the Royal Star, chugging across the Gulf Stream, Miami just an insolent glow on the pistol butt of Florida.

The bon voyage bash was in full swing. Much popping of champagne corks, much nibbling from long silver trays offered by tuxedoed waiters, much merry buzz from passengers gathered on the main deck.

All in all, a pretty swank crowd. Not that I was much good at recognizing A-list types. That was Barbara's job.

She pointed out an actor or two or three. A fashion model who had just married a tennis star. A film director chatting up a brand-name heiress. A famous lawyer, a famous artist, a famous somebody else. And a scattering of corporate tycoons who, even though the suggested attire for the evening was something called "casual elegant," had shown up in suits anyway. Some guys are just like that.

A waiter moved in with a long silver tray. Barbara took a big dab of caviar. She scooped up some tempura prawns when they came around a few minutes later. An enthusiastic eater, Barbara. Just one of many things I love about her.

I was saving my gluttonous self for the tray of stone crab claws that was slowly heading in our direction. Much too slowly, in my opinion. We were two days into stone crab season, October 17 to be exact. You couldn't get claws much fresher than the ones on that tray. Not unless you pulled the pots yourself.

The waiter serving the stone crabs was a compact fellow of Asian extraction with shiny black hair and busy eyes. He stopped at Pup Tent's table. He saw me watching him and smiled, lips parting just enough to reveal a shiny gold tooth.

Pup Tent and her pals helped themselves to the claws. They spooned out pale yellow sauce from a bowl on the tray, the same mustard sauce they serve at Joe's in South Beach. Colman's dry mustard, Hellmann's mayo, A1, Worcestershire, and just a bit of heavy cream. I had the recipe down cold, often used it with boiled shrimp. It is the kind of sauce you can dip your finger into and happily gnaw it to the bone.

I began making room on the table. I managed not to drool, but I did let out a few anticipatory grunts. I do love stone crabs.

But it was not to be. As the waiter started our way, he was intercepted by the maître d', a short, dark, heavyset man with a mustache and slicked-back hair. The two of them huddled for a moment, then the maître d' waved for the other four waiters and they all disappeared through a set of double doors.

I thought about chasing them down, but my focus was broken when Pup Tent stood up. She strolled past our table. Everything about her — eyes, cheekbones, boobs, butt — defied gravity. It was like staring at a car wreck. Couldn't help but.

"Really," Barbara said. "One shouldn't be terrified of a tiny bit of sag. It's only natural."

I looked at Barbara. More specifically, I looked at her breasts.

"I like natural," I said.

Barbara smiled. She sat up straight, all the better for me to admire her.

"And what is your position on sag?"

I observed her breasts some more. Lately, there had been an increasing amount of them to observe.

"With you, it is not a matter of sag."

"What would you call it then?"

"I would call it fullness. I would call it abundance. I would call it plentitude."

"And I would call you quite full of it." She stroked my cheek. "But in the best possible way."

The band was one of those cruise-ship ensembles that can play just about anything and, in the process, suck the soul right out of it. They started in on "What a Wonderful World." The lead singer was no Satchmo. Didn't really make any difference. It's one of those songs that no matter how badly the band plays it, you want to reach out and hold the one you love.

Barbara took my hand.

"Let's dance," she said.

We were the first couple on the floor. I held Barbara close. Well, as close as the situation would allow. Dancing cheek to cheek was out of the question. But belly to belly worked just fine.

Barbara flinched.

"Ooh," she said, "did you feel Critter kick?"

"I did," I said. "Must like the oldie-goldies."

Another kick. And then another.

"Critter's dancing," said Barbara.

"A regular Rockettes chorus line."

"Which would indicate a girl."

"Not necessarily so," I said. "Boys can grow up to dance in chorus lines."

"And that wouldn't bother you?"

"What?"

"To have a son who danced in a chorus line?"

"Not in the least," I said. "However Critter comes out is fine by me."

"Me, too."

The band kept playing songs we liked, and we kept dancing. I could waltz through hell with Barbara Pickering and it would be just fine with me.

Truth was, being on a cruise ship, even the world's most luxurious one, came pretty close to my personal vision of hell. For Barbara, it was just another day at work. She is owner/publisher of Tropics, the best travel magazine in the world. Not that I'm prejudiced in such matters. But such is her standing in the business that she was the only media type invited to join the Royal Star on its maiden voyage. Copies of the most recent issue of Tropics adorned all the tables, the Royal Star gracing its cover.

I'm Barbara's husband, her chattel and helpmate. I was along for the ride.

My name is Zack Chasteen. And my résumé would include abundant use of the word "former." I am a former football player (Florida Gators, Miami Dolphins, blew out a knee), a former inmate of federal prison (subsequently pardoned on all counts), and a former charter captain/fishing guide/dive-boat operator (gave it up when I decided that trying to make money on the water was ruining my love for it).

Nowadays, I am owner and head flunky of Chasteen's Palm Tree Nursery in LaDonna, Florida. I grow and sell rare specimen palms. It's a business I inherited from my grandfather, and it includes thirty-some-odd acres along Redfish Lagoon, just south of Minorca Beach, where I make my home.

Let me rephrase that. It's where Barbara and I make our home. I'm still enough of a newlywed that the whole collective pronoun thing throws me for a loop sometimes.

In any event, on the evening the Royal Star set out from Miami, bound for ports unknown, Barbara and I were celebrating our six-month anniversary. And she was roughly eight months pregnant. If that upsets your sensibilities, I have three words: Get a grip.

The band segued into "Slow Boat to China."

"I'm glad we came," Barbara said.

"Me, too."

"You're just saying that. You hate being on a cruise ship."

"I don't hate being on a cruise ship with you."

"Good save, Chasteen," Barbara said, settling back into my arms. "Just think, we're almost parents."

"Nervous?"

"More like anxious."

"Anxious in the sense of not wanting anything to go wrong? Or just wishing Critter would hurry up and get here?"

"Mostly hurry up and get here. But some of the other, too."

"You've just got the pregame jitters."

"Oh, do I now?"

"I used to throw up before every game. Just like being pregnant."

"Mmm, yes, just like it in every way."

"That's why I always asked to be on the kickoff team. Get in a good lick, lay somebody low, and it got rid of the jitters just like that."

Barbara looked up at me.

"Are you seriously trying to draw an analogy between your experiences playing football and mine of giving birth to our child?"

"In my own feeble way."

"You used to wear a helmet, right?"

"I did."

"So try passing that."

"You're not talking forward pass here, are you?"

"No, I'm talking push-push, squeeze-squeeze, out the bottom."

"Thanks for sharing that imagery."

"What's mine is thine," Barbara said.

CHAPTER 2

THURSDAY, 7:48 P.M.


The killing started on Deck One, the lower level of the engine room, when the assistant motorman pulled the SAR-21 from its hiding place by the main turbine and opened fire on the chief engineer and the junior chief as they made their evening rounds.

The assistant motorman wore a blue jumpsuit, the gold crest of the Royal Star above his heart, the name "Glenroy" stitched in white below it. Glenroy Patterson. That was the name on his passport, the name everyone knew him by, although every now and then one of the crew, someone from Jamaica or Barbados, might call him Trini, in the easy, familiar way of the islands, because that was where he came from, Trinidad.

He was a big man. He had to stoop when going through hatchways, turn his thick shoulders to negotiate a tight squeeze, since the lower regions of the Royal Star, like all cruise ships, favored men with compact frames. But Glenroy's bulk belied his nimbleness and he moved with that economy of motion, a blend of grace and speed that gives advantage to gifted athletes. And warriors.

Like the rest of the engine crew, he wore earmuffs under his hard hat. Still, the rifle shots were louder, much louder, than he'd expected.

The first five shots hit their targets. The next five went high and wide. Then Glenroy took a breath, lowered the rifle, and triggered the last shots home.

The impact blew the chief engineer and the junior chief backward, over the catwalk rail and onto a boiler. Their bodies sizzled on the hot metal, sending up little puffs of steam before sliding to the slick gray floor. The floor had been mopped just an hour or so before, the job completed at 6:30 P.M. to be exact. Glenroy knew because he had done the mopping.

Three other crewmen were on the catwalk, near the control-room door, guys who worked side by side with Glenroy. They froze as Glenroy wheeled around on them. Nowhere they could go, nothing they could do.

One of them, Wendell, accent on the Dell, had grown up in Port-of-Spain, just like Glenroy. Hard worker, Wendell. Another veteran of the cruise lines. Put in his shift in the engine room, then played steel pan in ship bands when they wanted to give it an island flair, playing crap like "Hot, Hot, Hot" and "Day-O," not soca like Wendell preferred. Wendell, a good Christian man. Had just bought a house up in the hills by Tunapuna, down the road from the monastery where the monks kept bees and sold honey from a store by their chapel.

Glenroy shot Wendell first. Then he shot the other two, adrenaline pumping, pumping so hard that before Glenroy could back off he had emptied the thirty-shot clip.

And to think he had been skeptical about the SARs, had worried they might not work, had worried over so many things.

No time for that now.

Glenroy gave the bodies wide berth. Wendell looking straight at him it seemed, dead eyes that still could see.

Glenroy glanced into the engine control room. It was empty, the door secure. Plexiglas walls enclosed the room, and Glenroy could see the bank of monitors mounted near the ceiling, their screens blank.

One less thing to worry about.

Sonny had come through. Sonny, the Korean kid who was the ship's entire communications department. He had disabled the network of closed-circuit cameras placed throughout the ship, then phoned the bridge, telling the watch officers it was just a minor glitch, something he'd fix in a hurry. No reason they wouldn't buy it. They bought everything Sonny told them.

Now Sonny was on his way to Deck Eight where he would climb a ladder to the roof above the Observation Room and disconnect the two satellite dishes, along with the backup Inmarsat system. It would cut off all communication with the Royal Star. There were still a few VHF and short-wave radios scattered around the ship, but Sonny knew where they all were. He would take care of them.

Glenroy removed his hard hat and earmuffs, dropped them on the floor. He grabbed his backpack, pulled out a new clip. He slapped it into the rifle.

He moved out of the engine room, down the hallway, and up the stairs to Deck Four.


There had been no chance to test-fire the SARs. They had arrived only the night before, seven of them hidden in fifty-five-gallon containers of EZ laundry detergent and delivered to the provisions station on Deck Two by an official, Transportation Safety Administration – inspected Port of Miami supply truck loaded down with cases of liquor, dry-ice lockers filled with meat, and drums of canola oil.

Arranging the buy had proven easy enough. In the longstanding tradition of the cruise industry worldwide, the tight-knit Chinese cabal that ran the laundry on the Royal Star not only controlled the ship's loan-sharking enterprise but provided procurement services for everything from dope to fake passports and, in this case, assault rifles.

Yap-Yap, the laundry manager, hadn't asked any questions when Glenroy placed his order. He was a small man with tar-black eyes and skin so smooth and flawless it was impossible to tell his age. Maybe thirty, maybe sixty. All the Chinese were like that. Glenroy thought it must have something to do with working in the laundry. The heat, the steam. It dried them out, preserved them.

"What you want, it cost much money," Yap-Yap said.

"I've got money."

Yap-Yap studied him.

"It take long time," he said. "Weeks maybe, months."

"Bullshit, mon. This Miami. Everyone selling guns."

Yap-Yap narrowed his lips. If snakes could grin, so could he.

"You come back two days," Yap-Yap said.

When Glenroy returned, he could tell Yap-Yap had found a source and was ready to dicker because right off he started talking about how tricky it would be getting the rifles on board and what would happen if they got caught, going on and on, working it, making it sound harder than it really was in order to jack up the price.

"Very dangerous, very dangerous. TSA, they watch everything. I no want go jail."

"How much?"

Yap-Yap told him. It was twice what the SARs cost on the open market, but about what Glenroy expected to pay. Still, they went round and round and finally settled on a number. Yap-Yap said he would need it all up front. Glenroy pulled out a roll of hundreds and paid him, making sure Yap-Yap saw the roll was still plenty thick when he returned it to his pocket.

On the night of the delivery, Yap-Yap was there waiting for the supply barge, along with the provisions master, a fat Belgian with big ears whose job it was to inventory everything that came aboard the Royal Star and let no opportunity for personal gain go unseized. The provisions master had been more intent upon requisitioning a case of single-malt scotch and a flat of beef tenderloins than paying attention to Yap-Yap and the three other Chinese as they loaded the detergent containers on handcarts and hauled them away.

Glenroy met Yap-Yap just after midnight in the laundry storeroom. He brought along Pango, the Indonesian maître d'. Pango had been Glenroy's original recruit, before Sonny even, the first person Glenroy had entrusted with his plan, or at least part of it, back when the crew of the Royal Star first signed on.

Yap-Yap eyed Pango with suspicion, uneasy that a third party was in on the deal.

Glenroy counted out another thousand dollars, handed it to Yap-Yap.

"That's for the guarantee," he said.

"What guarantee? I no guarantee nothing. You pay money, I find guns, I get them on ship. That that. No guarantee, no guarantee."

Glenroy let Yap-Yap finish talking. When the laundry manager got wound up he really did sound like a little dog barking.

When he was done, Glenroy looked at him and said, "It's my guarantee."

"You guarantee? You guarantee what?" "Guarantee you say anything about this I'll kill you."

Yap-Yap was quiet after that. He took the money and pointed to a corner of the storeroom. Then he walked out, leaving Glenroy and Pango alone with the rifles.

The SARs came bagged in plastic. So did the ammo clips. Despite that, Glenroy and Pango had to use hair dryers to blow out little blue balls of detergent that had slipped past the wrapping and threatened to gum up the rifles.

Pango had some experience with assault rifles. He claimed to have been an officer in Tentara Nasional Indonesia, attached to an elite guard unit at the presidential palace in Jakarta. Claimed, too, that he would have been there still had not a past election brought in a new regime.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from A Deadly Silver Sea by Bob Morris. Copyright © 2008 Bob Morris. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

BOB MORRIS's work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Caribbean Travel&Life, and Bon Appetit. His third book in the Zack Chasteen series, Bermuda Schwartz, was published in 2007. Bob lives in Winter Park, Florida.
Bob Morris, a former newspaper columnist and magazine editor, contributes to a number of publications and teaches writing at Rollins College and the University of Central Florida. His first novel in the bestselling Zack Chasteen series, Bahamarama, was nominated for the Edgar Award. He lives in Winter Park, Florida.

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A Deadly Silver Sea (Zack Chasteen Series) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Florida, former NFL player and ex con Zack Chasteen is contented to run a palm tree nursery, as long as his beloved travel magazine owner Barbara Pickering is with him. He especially looks forward to the birth of their first child in about a month.

Zack, Barbara and many affluent people are sailing on the luxurious cruise ship Royal Star on its maiden voyage; his invitation comes from being classy Barbara¿s escort, which serves a reminder of how far he has come. Soon after the Royal Star embarks from Miami, gunmen kill most of the crew and take control of the vessel. After the passengers are separated by gender, Zack tries to get the men to join him on a blitzkrieg, but he end up in the drink while Barbara goes into premature labor.

The latest Zack Casteen thriller (see BERMUDA SCHWARTZ, BAHAMARAMA and JAMAICA ME DEAD) is as fast-paced as its predecessors, but lacks the originality of the previous tales with Cussler's Pitt novels and movies like Under Siege. Zack¿s usual amusing cynical asides also seem out of place in a scenario in which his about to give birth beloved is in deep peril. Still he is an interesting mix as a sarcastic moralistic antihero struggling to rally the civilians at sea against deadly pirates making his current under siege escapade fun for his fans.

Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just started reading this author and really like his books. This one was fast paced and exciting. Loved it, and am just about to read another of his books.
stella72 More than 1 year ago
I read all of Bob Morris "Zack Chasteen Series" and he is a very talented writer. Loved his style of writing, love the characters and I can't wait to read more "Zack" books. Thanks Bob Morris!
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RD2RD More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book as I have enjoyed all the books that involve Zack Chasteen. I like being familer with the characters in the books that Bob Morris writes.
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MysteryfanTN More than 1 year ago
This latest installment in the Zack Chasteen series offers a faster-moving, more urgent plot than some of the preceding novels, while losing some of the character backgrounding and charm that have made this series a favorite. All in all, a fair trade-off, especially if you have three days at the beach to finish a book. The plot involves a takeover of a small luxury cruise ship on its inaugural voyage. Zack is there because his new wife, Barbara, has been invited as the publisher of a travel magazine. After a few pages of setting the table, literally and figuratively, the action starts as gunmen round up passengers, shoot officers, and segregate everyone into groups watched over by the small number of gunmen. There are areas where you must suspend reality, as an incommunicado cruise ship in this era would certainly be noticed, and when it is noticed surprisingly little is done, but the pages fly by quickly enough that it doesn't kill the plot. The little facts and nuggets interspersed throughout about cruise ship life are actually quite accurate. I've worked on ships and many observations are spot on. The author points to plenty of research in his acknowledgements and it shows. Overall, I would highly recommend this book.