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Sea Hunter: A Novel of Suspense

Overview

There is something swimming beneath the placid surface of Caribbean waters — something sleek and frightening, an inexplicable perversion of the natural order.

Virgin Islands charter captain David Hope has seen it, and his passenger, beautiful renegade filmmaker Sally Moffitt, has captured its image. Now they have something that one man will do anything to possess. William Tree, the commander of a towering high-tech research vessel and scion of one of America's wealthiest, most ...

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Overview

There is something swimming beneath the placid surface of Caribbean waters — something sleek and frightening, an inexplicable perversion of the natural order.

Virgin Islands charter captain David Hope has seen it, and his passenger, beautiful renegade filmmaker Sally Moffitt, has captured its image. Now they have something that one man will do anything to possess. William Tree, the commander of a towering high-tech research vessel and scion of one of America's wealthiest, most powerful families, lives his life in single-minded pursuit of a dark and brilliant vision that the world will soon recognize . . . and fear. But Hope and Moffitt cannot trust this amiable, eccentric, and dangerous man. And they intend to keep their secret hidden, even as a nightmare, uncontained, rises up from the depths, setting them off on a breakneck hunt for answers to the greatest and most devastating mystery the seas have ever nurtured.

A mystery that is now, ruthlessly and relentlessly, hunting them . . .

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This maritime escapade takes the same tack as Garrison's Buried at Sea, a wave-tossed thriller, but drifts into becalmed waters. Grief-stricken after scattering his former lover's ashes at sea, journalist-turned-sailor David Hope is rushing back to Tortola in the Leewards (where he ekes out a living chartering his catamaran, Oona, to scuba-diving tourists) when he sees a dolphin as large as a killer whale. Arriving back in Tortola, Hope finds his much-needed end-of-the-season charter-which was to provide the money for long-overdue boat repairs-has canceled. Serendipitously, he is approached by Sally Moffitt, an underwater filmmaker intent on making a film on the breeding habits of short-snouted spinner dolphins. She charters his boat, and they scarcely make it out to sea when they encounter the giant dolphin. After the sighting, they are invited aboard a huge, anachronistic sailing vessel owned by a wealthy naturalist, Bill Tree, who is doing suspicious research on dolphins. While they're aboard, Tree bugs the Oona so he can eavesdrop on Hope and Moffitt, and all are led north by the dolphin, which is soon revealed to be a "killphin," programmed for a mission of doom. Garrison has a knack for snappy dialogue, and his characters are lively creations, even when they're stereotypes (the massively fat Tree is a classic over-the-top James Bond villain). But as Hope and Moffitt predictably become lovers and the repetitive plot blurs into a mind-numbing sea chase, waterlogged readers will long for dry land. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Screwball romance and homage to Jules Verne as an unlikely couple tangle with a demented billionaire’s secret weapon. Garrison (Buried at Sea, Feb. 2002, etc.) has so admirably established himself as craftsman of sailing adventure that there’s an urge to skip the plot details and get to the fun stuff: the delightfully dangerous drama of flawed but intrepid loners finding new strengths on the open sea as they beat the bad guys every time. Our intrepid loner this time is David Hope, former journalist who runs scuba charters out of the Virgin Islands. Just as he scatters the ashes of his former lover, his boat is nearly destroyed by a US Navy submarine whose commander thinks Hope might have something to do with a computer shutdown that near nearly sank the sub. After the sub lets him go, Hope returns to Tortula to find that the last charter of the season has canceled. The screwball antics set in when he fails to pick up Sally Moffit, an undersea nature filmmaker, at a bar, and even so ends up helping her (she’s has just been dumped by her filmmaker husband) steal some of her husband’s equipment, then agrees to take her to Bermuda to film the mating habits of a species of dolphin. Before romance can bloom, the two see a dolphin with the size and lethal abilities of a killer whale. Before they can learn more about it, they’re hailed by William Tree, unctuous, effusively polite, repulsively fat offshore oil mogul who lives aboard an enormous sailing ship. It gives nothing away to say that Tree, dolphin, and computer failure are linked, that Tree is more of a Dr. Frankenstein than a Captain Nemo, and that he’ll use Hope and Moffit as target for a nasty new weapon. Skip the high-tech antics andTracy/Hepburn banter: when it comes to high-seas action, Garrison is at the crest of the wave.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060081683
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/25/2003
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 374
  • Product dimensions: 2.14 (w) x 0.94 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Like his grandfather, who wandered the South Seas in the last of the square-rigged trading vessels, Paul Garrison spends as much time as he can at sea working with boats, tugs, and ships. He is the author of Fire and Ice, Red Sky at Morning, Buried at Sea, and Sea Hunter.

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First Chapter

Sea Hunter
A Novel of Suspense

Chapter One

David Hope knelt to empty the urn that the crematorium had FedEx-ed to Tortola. He had sailed south all night and through the morning, racing down the backside of the Leeward Islands, fleeing a ghost that stuck closer than the wind. When he stopped his boat, at last, deep inside the Caribbean, St. Croix lay sixty miles in his wake, South America five hundred ahead, and the vast blue sea spanned barren horizons.

Famous ashes-scattering disasters leapt to mind, gruesome, comic, twisted. The deceased who stuck to the airplane's fresh paint. Weeping mourners fleeing a change in the breeze. Before he'd quit the newspaper business, he'd written about a man who had arranged to have his ashes poured into his ex-wife's central air conditioning.

Hope had found a letter taped to the urn. "Barbara's dying wish," her parents claimed. She wanted her ashes spread on the ocean.

That was a lie.

She had loved the sea, all right. Loved it as fiercely as only an ignorant romantic could love. Loved it enough to die for it. But to express a dying wish, you had to be able to think. And Hope, who had persisted in telephoning the doctor monitoring her coma, knew the truth. Barbara Carey had not voiced a waking thought in the long year since she smashed her beautiful head on a semisubmersible offshore oil rig that she had vowed to stop from "raping" -- her furious word -- the Gulf of Mexico.

A brave and magnificent woman. One in a million.

Her parents could have hired one of the professional services that scattered ashes for a fee. But it appeared that they were still looking for someone to blame. Hard to blame them. For they knew one immutable fact. Barbara's merry band of eco-crusaders would never have set foot on the floating oil rig without the help of a blue-water sailor who had the sense to know they were truly risking their lives.

Who better to bury her?

So Hope had sailed her ashes far from any shore and confirmed with binoculars and radar that they were alone. They sat for a while in the shade of the bimini top. Finally he asked, "Ready?" and carried her down the dive steps in the back of the starboard hull and knelt on the grate.

Mindful of the wind, he submerged the urn in the clear water and slowly unscrewed the top. The powdery ash was sprinkled with larger bits that sank like pebbles. But the dust that remained spread like a ghostly fog. He was wondering whether he was supposed to keep the urn when her ashes enveloped his wrist.

He jerked his hand out of the water and dropped the urn, which commenced a two-mile voyage to the bottom. The low waves dispersed the fog. Heart pounding, stomach churning, he rinsed off, repeatedly, until it occurred to him, So what? They'd shared a hundred intimacies. Why not this?


Mission Accomplished, he wiped his eyes on the longsleeved shirt he wore to protect his arms from the relentless sun. He hadn't known her long, but she had grabbed hold of him all out of proportion to time. A compelling and charismatic soul. And needy? asked a small dark voice. Though a wiser one whispered the oldest adage of letting go, "Don't speak ill of the dead."

When he calmed down, he was struck anew by the immensity of the ocean and how Barbara was quite suddenly and completely gone. Not a bad way to go. Though when his own time came, if he had a choice, he thought he would prefer an eternal version of the celebrated seasickness cure -- a quiet spot under a tree.

He cranked out the roller-reefed main and Jib, opening his sails to the northeast trade wind, and set the catamaran flying home to Tortola. A pair of scuba-diving couples arriving from New Jersey would be his last paying charter job before he sailed north for the summer. He had to clean up the boat and provision for a week of live-aboard reef exploring.

He was late, having procrastinated the burial-sailing much further south of the British Virgin Islands than he had to, then sitting around the cockpit for hours talking to her urn. So he pushed the cat hard, constantly tweaking the sails to extract the most power from the wind, adjusting and readjusting the depth of the daggerboard that projected below the starboard hull to keep the swift, surface-skimming, twin-hull boat from sliding sideways.

Racing had the additional benefit of keeping him too busy for memory and guilt and regret. It worked for a while. So well, at first, that he found himself thinking thoughts he had not allowed himself since the accident. I'm ready to meet somebody. Why not? He'd paid his dues. He had been alone -- absolutely, celibately alone with the possible exception of a drunken night with a New York lawyer at the end of Antigua Race Week. Now, at last, it felt all right to admit that he was lonely. It would be terrific to meet somebody who was looking, too. Maybe he would get lucky. He should put out the word to his friends: Hope was prepared to hope. He was savoring that thought, encouraged by a pretty sunset, when the helm jammed.

He reacted swiftly to stop the suddenly rudderless boat, winching in the main and jib sheets to steer her bows into the wind. Then he jumped belowdecks and found what he expected: a loose rudder cable he had neglected to tighten had jumped its quadrant. Crouching in a stifling hot steering gear compartment, he worked the steering cable back into its quadrant groove and repeated an oftpromised pledge to replace the entire steering system with hydraulics as soon as he had the cash.

He was quickly under way again. But if David Hope had entertained the belief that scattering Barbara Carey's ashes would close a black chapter, he was mistaken. The darkness that descended with the sun brought him the worst night since the accident. Every time he closed his eyes to catch five minutes of sleep in the cockpit, the nightmares struck, familiar as a brutal jailer.


Again and again he started awake, already on his feet, gripping the helm, shaking head to toe, and astonished to discover Oona coursing over the open sea instead of weaving through pools of blood and burning oil.

By dawn he felt half dead, his blue eyes red and stinging, his heavy swimmer's shoulders knotted with tension, his long, weathered face haggard. It was scored by two weary lines that cut from his nose to his jaw. As if he'd been branded with a number eleven, he thought when he glimpsed his reflection in the mirror in the head. A sneak preview of how he would look when he was old. Or in the grave. People who usually assumed he was ten years younger than his forty-eight would jump this morning to offer their seat on a bus.

He brewed some strong black coffee. It didn't help. He riffled through his CDs. Cyrus Chestnut playing hymns on the piano. He bumped through the tracks. "Onward Christian Soldiers" made him feel better. But not much. "The Old Rugged Cross" helped, too. But not enough. Somehow, he had to sleep. So he took a careful look around to make sure that he and Oona were sailing alone. He set his internal alarm for ten minutes, and the radar to sound if any vessel came within three miles, then prayed -- begged -- for a peaceful ten minutes, and closed his eyes.

Six minutes later, he saw an enormous dolphin leap from the ocean. The animal rose straight up on its tail, stood taller than seemed possible, and began to spin, burnished gold and red by the morning sun.

Hope suspected another dream. He felt fast asleep and he was experiencing a dreamer's double perspective of a close-up and a long shot. Or was he dreaming a memory of waking for a moment and seeing the creature while he checked that the sea was clear of ships?

It had to be a dream. The dolphin was enormous -- supernaturally larae -- as colossal as a killer whale.

But whatever the reality, at least the big, beautiful dolphin wasn't a nightmare and for that gift he was grateful. Then something outside dream or memory made a noise. It banged against the starboard hull with a sharp, hollow donk. Not at all the sound he'd expect of a collision with a large mammal, and Hope snapped awake to see what his boat had hit.

Sea Hunter
A Novel of Suspense
. Copyright © by Paul Garrison. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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