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A Watery Grave
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The year is 1838, and after more than ten years in the planning, the famous United States Exploring Expedition is set to launch into uncharted waters from the coast of Virginia. A convoy of seven ships filled with astronomers, mapmakers, naturalists, and the sailors charged with getting them around the world, the "Ex. Ex." is finally underway, with much fanfare. Aboard the convoy as ship's linguist is Wiki Coffin. Half New Zealand Maori and half American, Wiki speaks numerous languages and is expected to help the crew navigate the Pacific islands that are his native heritage. But just before departure Wiki, subject to the unfortunate bigotry of the time, is arrested for a vicious murder he didn't commit. The convoy sails off, but just before the ships are out of reach Wiki is exonerated, set free to catch up with his ship and sail on. The catch: the local sheriff is convinced that the real murderer is aboard one of the seven ships of the expedition, and Wiki is deputized to identify the killer and bring him to justice.
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About the Author

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.

Reviews

The son of a Maori mother and an American father, expert sailor and linguist Wiki Coffin is part of an 1838 scientific expedition sailing from Virginia to the Pacific. His discovery of a dead woman's body and subsequent false arrest delay his ship's departure, but after his exoneration Wiki must act as sheriff's agent to find the real murderer on board. Noted maritime historian Druett (In the Wake of Madness: The Murderous Voyage of the Whaleship Sharon) 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. Druett lives in New Zealand. Highly recommended. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

The troubled United States South Seas Exploring Expedition of 1838 (the subject of Nathaniel Philbrick's bestselling Sea of Glory) makes the perfect backdrop for a tricky murder manhunt in this first mystery from New Zealand maritime historian Druett (In the Wake of Madness). William "Wiki" Coffin, a Maori half-breed, has just signed on in Virginia as "linguister" for the voyage when he's jailed as a suspect in the murder of wealthy Mrs. Tristram T. Stanton, wife of the expedition's civilian astronomer. Wiki clears himself easily and so impresses the local sheriff with his savvy that he's deputized to pursue the investigation aboard ship. Druett makes fine mystery McGuffins out of the infamous expedition's real-life chaos and mismanagement, notably commander Charles Wilkes's capricious transfers of personnel between ships that made it difficult to keep track of who was where. She also presents some well-realized villains, whose bigoted treatment of Wiki salts the plot with complicating red herrings. 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. Agent, Laura Langlie. (Oct. 6) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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"" "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 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"

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