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Shark Island (Wiki Coffin Mysteries) by Joan…
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Shark Island (Wiki Coffin Mysteries) (edition 2006)

by Joan Druett

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423394,874 (4)9
Member:evareads
Title:Shark Island (Wiki Coffin Mysteries)
Authors:Joan Druett
Info:Minotaur Books (2006), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:historical, other cultures, crime

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Shark Island by Joan Druett

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As i continue the Wiki Coffin series, I continue to be intrigued by the character of Wiki and the insight into Pacific island customs. The plotting is mixed up with a lot of ship and sea lingo that mostly goes right by me, although I'm sure I'm subconsciously absorbing a lot of it. In this novel, Wiki and the crew of the Swallow, part of the 1830s US Exploring Expedition, encounter a ship that has run aground on Shark Island, formerly the site of a prison, and another that has sprung a leak trying to get to the one that had run aground. Soon the captain of the leaking ship is killed, followed by a crew member from the Swallow; the captain's wife has been aboard the ship and it turns out that Wiki knows her from his time living with his American father in Connecticut. Now Wiki, and his friend George Rochester, must investigate before the killer kills again.
  rebeccanyc | Sep 20, 2015 |
First Line: The hours were dragging.

It could be that I love well-written books about the sea because there are so many sailors in the family. (I even married an ex-submariner.) New Zealand author Joan Druett has long been one of my favorites for maritime history. When I discovered that she'd begun writing an historical mystery series based on the travels of the United States South Seas Exploring Expedition of 1838 to 1842, I was thrilled. What a perfect movable feast of a setting for a mystery series! If you're one of the many who've never heard of this American expedition, here's a few words about it from Joan Druett herself:

" ...huge tracts of the ocean had been charted, plus 800 miles of scarcely known Oregon shore and 1,500 miles of entirely unknown Antarctic coast. The Stars and Stripes had fluttered off the lagoons of well over 200 tropical islands, and more than 4,000 artifacts and 2,000 scientific specimens had been collected, an enormously rich fund that became the foundation of the collection of the new Smithsonian Institution."

As you can see from that small description alone, this is an incredibly rich fishing ground for a mystery series. The detective of the series is half-Maori, half-white Wiki Coffin. Due to his skill in linguistics, he's been hired by the expedition as an interpreter.

In this second book in the series, the ship Wiki is aboard is told to sail to Shark Island off the coast of Brazil to check into an alleged sighting of pirates. When they arrive, they discover a wrecked sealing ship and its crew. They've barely agreed to stay and begin repairs on the ship when its captain is murdered. While the sealing ship is being repaired, Wiki has little choice but to try to find the murderer of the captain... especially since the dead man was the husband of one of Wiki's old flames (who just happens to be on board, too).

I enjoy Druett's writing. She includes so much detail on life aboard ship, on ship repair, on sailing itself, and it's all added so seamlessly into the narrative that I never feel as though I'm reading a gigantic lesson with a quiz to follow at some unspecified date. There is one scene in particular that startled me so badly I almost leapt out of bed (which I thought was a very good thing since I'm so seldom surprised to that degree). The only real quibble I have with the entire book is that the culprit was a bit obvious to me, but it is a very small complaint indeed.

This series is one that I am purposely savoring; reading it very slowly to enjoy the character of Wiki, a wealth of new knowledge, and the settings. If you haven't tried any of Druett's books, I suggest that you do. Non-fiction or historical mystery, you are in for a treat. ( )
  cathyskye | Jul 25, 2010 |
In this second thrilling adventures, Forsythe leads Wiki Coffin and George Rochester into dangerous waters where both sharks and men kill ( )
  pambu | Oct 1, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312334567, Hardcover)

Wiki Coffin, linguist aboard the U.S. Exploring Expedition, the famous voyage meant to put America at the forefront of 19th century scientific discovery, brings many skills to his job. Whether he's translating native languages, assisting his good friend Captain George Rochester as unofficial first mate, or upholding the rule of law as deputy to the sheriff of the port of Virginia, Wiki is never far from the action aboard the seven ships that make up the expedition.

But when they encounter a wrecked sealing ship and its desperate crew on the shoals of remote, uninhabited Shark Island, Wiki has little idea just how many of his skills are about to be put to the test. As soon as they board the wreck, a dead body turns up with a dagger firmly inserted between its shoulder blades. And it's not just any dead body: the victim of the brutal murder is none other than the enigmatic captain of the doomed voyage. What’s more, Wiki's colleague and nemesis Lieutenant Forsythe is suspected of the crime.

Knowing full well that Forsythe is capable of such violence, Wiki nonetheless believes him innocent and is duty-bound to prove it for the good of the expedition. Was the murder a case of mutinous sealers taking the law into their own hands? Did the secrets of several mysterious long-ago voyages finally come back to haunt a dishonest and dishonorable captain? Or is Shark Island home to something more sinister than a few lonely goats? Something isn't quite right about the crew of the wrecked ship, and Wiki will stop at nothing to find out just what it is that they're hiding, and, in the process, unmask a vicious killer.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:02 -0400)

A second seafaring historical mystery set aboard the U.S. Exploring Expedition of the 19th century. The expedition helps the crew of a wrecked sealing ship, but when the captain of the sealer is murdered, only Wiki Coffin seems able to prove the innocence of his own nemesis, Lieutenant Forsythe.… (more)

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