White Cargo

White Cargo

3.9 15
by Stuart Woods

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Modern PiratesThey should have killed Catledge.
But they were too cruel. They let him live while they raped
his wife and daughter.Let him live while they sent his yacht and his family
to the bottom of the Caribbean.Let him live knowing he could never find the killers in the
drug boomtowns and pirate ports of Columbia.Then, late one night back in the…  See more details below


Modern PiratesThey should have killed Catledge.
But they were too cruel. They let him live while they raped
his wife and daughter.Let him live while they sent his yacht and his family
to the bottom of the Caribbean.Let him live knowing he could never find the killers in the
drug boomtowns and pirate ports of Columbia.Then, late one night back in the States, the phone rang.
And one word gave Catledge something to live for.One word crackling through the night before the
connection was lost.One word that launched a one-man war against
a ruthless outlaw.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite Woods's on-site research in Colombia, this suspense tale of cocaine trafficking and kidnapping only skims the surface of the seamy drug world it purports to investigate. Wendell (``Cat'') Catledge, a self-made electronics millionaire, is yachting off the South American coast with his family when a bloody act of piracy snatches away his ``heart-stoppingly beautiful'' teenage daughter Jinx and wife Katie. They are presumed dead, but weeks later Cat gets a brief phone call and recognizes Jinx's voice. His quest for his daughter, who is now a zombie enslaved by ``the Anaconda,'' a Colombian drug baron, involves Cat with assorted CIA and narc types and with Meg Greville, a freelance TV journalist who may be KGB. Woods (Deep Lie, Chiefs) serves up a slam-bang rescue as a fitting finale, but the suspense overall is so-so and the Latinos are either faceless or stereotypically sneaky. This one reads like a lukewarm episode of Miami Vice. (August)

Product Details

Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Ltd.
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White Cargo

Chapter One

Wendell Catledge sat up and squinted at the smudge on the horizon. It should not have been a surprise, he thought, but it was. The boat slid smoothly along in the light wind, and even the slight movement made it hard to focus on the shape, but it wasn't a ship or an oil rig, and in the early morning light, it seemed to be pink. He pulled at his beard and ran a hand through his hair, which was a good six months overdue for cutting. Hell, it just might be, it just might be what he guessed it was.

He glanced at the sails, left the autopilot in charge, and climbed down the companionway ladder to the navigation station. As he slid into the chart table seat he allowed himself yet another look at his instrument array. It was all there -- full Brookes & Gatehouse electronics, VHF and SSB radios, loran, Satnav, Weatherfax, a compact personal computer, and his own brainchild and namesake, the Cat One printer. That little machine had brought him all this -- the yacht, the gear, and the time to sail. Cat had waked up one morning and realized that, after nearly thirty years in electronics, he was an overnight success. He gave the printer a fatherly pat and turned to his chart of the southern Caribbean.

He pushed a button on the loran and got a readout of longitude and latitude, then plotted the coordinates on his chart and confirmed his suspicion. They were south of their course from Antigua to Panama and the Canal, and the smudge on the horizon wasn't all that far off the rhumb line. A tiny thrill ran through him. This is what it's all about, he thought, that little thrill of discovery, pushing back the boundaries,punching through the envelope. He laughed aloud to himself, then he banged his flat palm onto the chart table.

"All hands on deck!" he shouted, grabbing the binoculars and starting for the companionway ladder. "All hands on deck!" he yelled again, pausing in the hatchway, "Come on, everybody, shake it!" There was a rustling noise from the after cabin and a loud thump from the forepeak. He raised the glasses and focused on the distant, pink smudge. It was. It was, indeed.

Katie was the first into the cockpit, rubbing her eyes. Jinx was a step or two behind, having paused long enough to find a life jacket. "What is it, Cat? What's wrong?" his wife demanded.

"What's going on, Daddy?" Jinx yelled, wide-eyed.

He was pleased that, in her excitement, Jinx had forgotten to call him Cat. When she addressed him as an equal, it reminded him she was growing up -- had grown up. "Right over there," he said, pointing at the smudge.

Both women squinted at the horizon, shielding their eyes from the sun, which was now just above the horizon, big and hot.

"What is it?" Jinx demanded. "I can only see sort of a smudge -- "

"That's South America, kid," he replied. "Never let it be said your old man didn't show you South America."

She turned to him, a look of astonished disgust spreading over her face. "You mean you got me out of the sack for that?" She turned to her mother and shrugged, spreading her hands.

"For Christ's sake, Cat," his wife said, "I thought we were sinking." Both women turned back toward the companionway.

"Hey, wait a minute, guys," Cat said, thrusting the chart toward them, "that smudge is the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a little mountain range that goes up to nearly nineteen thousand feet; that's the La Guajira Peninsula of Colombia out there; just south of it is the fabled Venezuelan Port of Maracaibo. Doesn't that name send a chill right through you?"

"It sends a yawn right through me," Jinx said, yawning.

"No, wait a minute, kitten," Katie said to her daughter. "Look at it through the glasses. Your father didn't bring us all this way to miss this sort of thing."

Jinx took the binoculars and looked through them at the smudge. "Gee," she said, flatly, "you're right, it's a mountain. I've never seen a mountain before." She handed the glasses back to her mother.

Katie raised the glasses to her eyes. "You're right, it's a mountain. I've never seen a mountain before, either. Wow." She handed the binoculars back to Cat. "Can we go back to bed now?"

"Aw, listen, I know it's early, but you've got to get into the spirit. How would you like to have lunch in Colombia? How about that for a little unscheduled adventure?"

"I thought you were anxious to get through the Canal," Katie replied.

"Well, what the hell? It's not much out of the way, and we need to get that alternator fixed, you know. No more showers or microwave or hair dryer until we can charge the batteries again, and all that stuff in the freezer is going to go, too." The alternator had been down for two days, and they didn't have a spare. "Take a look here, both of you," Cat said, spreading the chart on a cockpit seat. "Here's Santa Marta, just down here. It's a commercial port, and they're bound to have some sort of electrical repair place there. "

"Listen, I don't like what I hear about Colombia," Katie said. "All I hear is pickpockets and drugs and stuff. Sounds like a pretty rough place to me."

"Don't believe everything you read in the papers," Cat replied. "Hell, lots of people go there all the time. It's just like any other place; a few of them get ripped off, sure. We've been in neighborhoods in Atlanta that were probably as dangerous as anything in Santa Marta."

"I don't know, Cat."

"Listen, Mom," Jinx broke in, "I don't mind..."

White Cargo. Copyright © by Stuart Woods. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Stuart Woods is the author of more than sixty novels. He is a native of Georgia and began his writing career in the advertising industry. Chiefs, his debut in 1981, won the Edgar Award. An avid sailor and pilot, Woods lives in Florida, Maine, and New Mexico.

Brief Biography

Key West, Florida; Mt. Desert, Maine; New York, New York
Date of Birth:
January 9, 1938
Place of Birth:
Manchester, Georgia
B.A., University of Georgia, 1959

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