Monday, July 13, 2009

The Black Sea by Richard Setlowe

"The Experiment" by Richard Setlowe, written in 1980, has always been one of my favorite science fiction novels. I always intended to read more of his work, but didn't get around to it until recently when I came across a used copy of "The Black Sea." This first rate thriller about espionage, fanaticism and piracy on the high seas was written in 1991 and proves that a great book will stand the test of time.

Dr. Maggi Chancellor, a professor of Asian studies, is aboard the Black Sea, a Russian luxury cruise ship. She's a non-paying passenger, working as a guest lecturer. Before the first day is over the ship is hijacked by pirates in the Strait of Singapore. Tengku Haji Azhar and his gang of Malaccan pirates seize the ship and hide it in a well concealed spot in a jungle river. Tengku has already gotten the attention of the American, Singapore and Russian governments by delivering the decapitated head of a crew member to the Raffles, a major Western hotel. The terrorists want arms for the hostages and if the governments don't comply more heads will roll. The U.S.S. Decatur, a guided missile frigate operating in the area under Captain Henry Stewart, searches for the Black Sea while Maggi, the only passenger who speaks the language of the terrorists tries to negotiate to save lives.

The characters are well developed and Setlowe does a great job building empathy for them. He tells the story in multiple points of view which adds to the suspense. The back history, far from slowing down the plot, is fascinating. The history, especially on Singapore and Malaysia, adds to the descriptions of the exotic setting. Details on culture, politics and the US Navy add to the depth of the plot. This is a fast moving adventure that is sure to please fans of action thrillers.

Publisher: HarperTorch (July 3, 2000)
ISBN: 978-0061014253
Mass Market Paperback: Pages 512

Don't forget there's still time to win a copy of "Shadow Prey" by John Sanford. The giveaway runs until Friday. Just leave a comment and mention the title.



Anonymous said...

oooo this one looks uber good. It's been a while since I got a good action book to read :)

Gail said...

I loved it! Setlowe knows how to keep the tension going.
And I entered you in the "Shadow Prey" giveaway. Gail