Extensive nautical lore, a taut plot and copious helpings of dirty politics help distinguish this adventure. English journalist Bill Tyrrell gives up the writing game when he inherits an old-fashioned cutter, crewed by a motley collection of teenage deadbeats. When his boat's rudder catches on the corpse of a Soviet sailor in a Thames estuary, the ensuing publicity reflects badly on Bill, his young charges and the organization that employs him to teach sailing to troubled teens. It turns out that several of the crew members knew the dead man: two go into hiding, and one is shot full of heroin and murdered. After a car runs him down, Bill's dormant journalistic instincts kick in, and the chase is on. Llewellyn ( Dead Reckoning ) unleashes a barrage of suspicious types: Bill's politically minded brother, suddenly keen to sell his share of the boat; his occasional lover, suddenly keen to handle the sale; and an enigmatic Russian woman, suddenly keen on Bill. All are likely killers, but Llewellyn manages to surprise with a resolution plucked from out of nowhere. His previous nautical adventures have generally been slack, insular affairs whose characters obsess about boats, love and money (in that order). In this one, a subtext of international politics twists the tensions just a little bit tighter. ( Sept. )
The Cold War thaw, high politics, mystery, and a nautical setting are combined in this seventh novel by Llewellyn ( Deadeye , Summit Bks., 1991). War correspondent Bill Tyrrell has retired to England, where he makes a living taking juvenile delinquents to sea aboard his yacht Vixen in an attempt at reforming them. While anchoring at the end of a voyage, Tyrrell discovers the body of a Russian sea cadet wrapped around Vixen 's propeller. This incident launches an investigation that reaches the highest political offices in England and leaves Tyrrell both a scapegoat and the target of attempts on his life. He employs his skills as a war correspondent to explain a seemingly routine accident whose political overtones are interspersed with violence. While Blood Knot offers good nautical detail, the Cold War motif combined with elements of a murder mystery has been done once too often. Public libraries should purchase only on demand.-- Harold N. Boyer, Marple P.L., Broomall, Pa.