Now Doc can watch for the first wrong move they make.
©1982 Richard L. Boyer; (P)1997 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Fast moving...A natural storyteller who sticks straight to the line." (The New York Times Book Review)
I picked this book up from Audible's list of Edgar winners (best in show, 1983). I was drawn to the publisher's description of a protagonist who sounds a lot like Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford. Both called Doc (Ford a PhD, Adams a surgeon), both live on the water, both are a lot smarter than the villains who surround them. Boyer's Doc Adams is not an ex-black ops guy, but he seems to have picked up some moves somewhere that Doc Ford would appreciate. I expect Rick Boyer would like to have had White's success, but he hasn't, and this book may hold a clue to why.
The plot seemed weak and not particularly credible. I was never convinced that Doc Adams had any good reason to set out trying to locate the boat he initially sees high and dry on the novel's eponymous shoal. The police in the novel were portrayed as amiable dunces, willing to go along with Doc Adams and usually defer to him. The incident in which Doc Adams' wrist is broken comes out of the blue, making you think it's something sinister. It's not, and it makes no serious contribution to the plot, except to give the hero time off from work to be a hero.
It's become obligatory in the genre for the good guy to suffer grievous bodily harm at the hands of the bad guys. Doc Adams does. A lot of authors describe these beating in detail. Boyer just says, through Adams' voice, that he couldn't describe it. And, like all those other beat-up good guys, Adams comes right back, complaining every few paragraphs of this ache or that pain or of feeling woozy. Not credible.
That said, Boyer does paint very fine scenes for his characters to act in. The atmosphere of New England's waterways and watermen is compelling. You can feel the rain and wind when Adams is off on his solo quest to find the missing ship. The dialog is good too, intelligent, and witty when needed. This sort of textured writing would make a decent plot into a first-class book.
Christopher Lane has one of those radio announcer voices that are very easy to listen to. He has a good range of different characterizations that let him consistently identify the character speaking. His female voice is pretty good too, although if I heard it in a singles' bar I would definitely be sneaking a peek at the old adam's apple.
On the whole, a book for a slow day.
Avid sailors might get distracted by the nautical accounts. The author is obviously at home on sailboat.
Some authors improve so, I will never say never.
The narrator was not noticeable which means he did a good job. Unless a narrator is distracting, I really do not pay attention to who reads the book aloud.
Disappointment. The beginning was so engaging, the characters interesting, the setting was great. The book just deteriorated into the most unbelievable storyline I have encountered in a while. The characters were inconsistent. They behaved in ways that could not be believed. The idea that an oral surgeon could be drawn into the situation was hitchcockian. I loved it. Then the protagonist began to behave inconsistently. I do not require characters to behave as I would but they should be true to their original description. They don't have to be rational but they should not change to degree Dr. Adams did. His original impetus was the murder of his son's friend. He was revealed to have an aversion to helping terrorists but nothing to prepare for his later obsession and his subsequent actions. His wife was all over the place too. The police, the army, the FBI characters were even close to believable. No rational explanation was given to pulling an oral surgeon into the case as a even a quasi-colleague. The bad guys behaved irrationally also. The godfatherish episode made no sense at all. They took unbelievable risks to keep an oral surgeon out of the investigation? The farmer who was not portrayed as an idiot, the reader was expected to believe did not know what was in his barn. The book began in such a promising way that I thought it would be a very good book. It was not.
This is a great story about a guy who happens to notice something unusual and finds himself totally mixed up in illegal arms, hidden treasure and murder. This was fast-paced and very entertaining.
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