Shark Island

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Praise for Joan Druett and A Watery Grave

"What a terrific idea New Zealand naval historian Joan Druett had for a mystery series."—Chicago Tribune

"This impressive debut will appeal both to fans of historical mysteries and to Patrick O' Brian readers."—Booklist (starred review)

"Evoking writers from Melville to Patrick O'Brian, and incorporating fascinating snippets of historical and anthropological lore, this...

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Praise for Joan Druett and A Watery Grave

"What a terrific idea New Zealand naval historian Joan Druett had for a mystery series."—Chicago Tribune

"This impressive debut will appeal both to fans of historical mysteries and to Patrick O' Brian readers."—Booklist (starred review)

"Evoking writers from Melville to Patrick O'Brian, and incorporating fascinating snippets of historical and anthropological lore, this novel is a fine start to a series sure to appeal to lovers of historical mysteries and fans of sea adventures."—Publishers Weekly

"Noted maritime historian Druett blends strong plotting and scads of authentic maritime detail in an impressive debut that should appeal to fans of historical mysteries and Patrick O'Brian. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

"The debut of a smart, appealing hero whose tale unfolds amid lots of interesting cross-cultural, historical, and nautical detail."—Kirkus Reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Maritime historian Druett's rousing second historical (after 2004's Watery Grave) set aboard the U.S. South Seas Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842 (the subject of Nathaniel Philbrick's Sea of Glory) offers rich nautical detail and an engaging and highly unusual protagonist: Wiki Coffin, the half-caste son of a Polynesian woman and a respected Salem shipmaster. Coffin, who's serving on the brig Swallow as both a "linguister" (or translator) and a sheriff's agent authorized to act at sea, gets involved in an investigation of two ships foundering in the shoals of Shark Island off the South American coast. A vulnerable captain, his beautiful young wife, a thuggish crew, a valuable and missing cargo and murder provide a stern test of Coffin's deductive abilities and his diplomatic skills. Druett should win plaudits from both mystery fans and aficionados of naval adventures. Agent, Laura Langlie. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The U.S. Exploring Expedition's Swallow, with sleuthing half-caste Polynesian linguist Wiki Coffin aboard, hits rough seas. The 1838 voyage has two goals: to explore Antarctica and to determine if privateers have settled on tiny Shark Island, 100 miles off the coast of Brazil, to attack Navy ships. Wiki's friend George Rochester commands the brig at sea but yields it to the more brutish Lt. Forsythe once land is sighted. Nearing Shark Island, they are hailed by Joel Hammond, first mate of the sealing schooner Annawan, who explains that they are cannibalizing their sister ship, the Hero, which buccaneers left to founder, in order to keep from sinking themselves. Once aboard the Annawan, all hands are dazzled by Captain Ezekiel Reed's bride, Annabelle. Formerly engaged to Hammond, Annabelle spent the week before her wedding dallying with Wiki. By nightfall, Reed lies dead, skewered by Forsythe's knife. But Wiki, believing him innocent, interrogates everyone from the boson to the cook, learns the difference between the galley and the pantry, and argues with Rochester over whether there are 16 or 17 hands aboard. Meanwhile, yarns are spun about hidden treasures, racism causes rifts among the crew, and Wiki and Annabelle, to Rochester's dismay, pick up where they left off. Basing her tale in part on the actual Exploring Expeditions' voyages, Druett (A Watery Grave, 2004) describes with contagious conviction floggings, cramped quarters, pettifogging officers and rum rations. Her mystery, however, owes more to Golden Age timetables and to, yes, red herrings.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312361471
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/3/2006
  • Series: Wiki Coffin Mysteries Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,213,546
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

In addition to the Wiki Coffin mysteries, JOAN DRUETT, an award-winning nautical nonfiction writer, is also the author of In the Wake of Madness: The Murderous Voyage of the Whaleship Sharon. She lives in New Zealand.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2005

    excellent historical mystery

    In 1838 Wiki Coffin enjoys his work as the linguist with the U.S. Exploring Expedition though he knows that long stretches along the Atlantic are boring and seemingly endless. Besides being the official translator to the seven vessel research project, he also does anything else his friend former Vincennes Captain George Rochester needs doing to keep the exploration running smooth. However, since Commander Wilkes demoted George to the rank of midshipman, Wiki is considering returning home. Wilkes dispatches the Swallow headed by Lieutenant Forsythe with Wiki aboard to take a look at allegedly uninhabited Ilha Tubarao which is Portuguese for Shark Island. The crew finds the distressed sealer Annawan taking in water after hitting the reef near the island. Wilkes wonders if these sailors claiming to be out of Connecticut are pirates as there are no seals in the equatorial zone. Not long after the naval crew of the Swallow and Wiki board the damaged ship, the murdered corpse of Annawan¿s Captain Reed is found with the evidence clearly pointing towards Lieutenant Forsythe as the culprit. Though he detests Forsythe and knows first hand how violent and abusive the lieutenant is, Wiki believes he did not commit the homicide and sets out to prove who did. --- SHARK ISLAND, the sequel to fabulous WATERY GRAVE, is an excellent historical mystery that uses as the setting of the real U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838. The who-done-it is cleverly devised so that the audience like most of the sailors leans heavily towards Forsythe as the killer. The hero courageously investigates in spite of loathing the prime culprit. However, although the homiceide case is fun to follow, the seafaring scientific expedition makes this must reading for historical fans. --- Harriet Klausner

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