Saturday, May 5, 2018

"Gale Force"

In addition to the McKenna Rhodes maritime adventure thriller Gale Force, Owen Laukkanen is the author of six critically-acclaimed Stevens and Windermere FBI thrillers, and as Owen Matthews, two wildly inappropriate novels for young adults. A former professional poker journalist and commercial fisherman, Laukkanen and his rescue pitbull Lucy divide their time between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island.

Laukkanen applied the Page 69 Test to Gale Force and reported the following:
Page 69 of Gale Force finds Captain McKenna Rhodes and the crew of the salvage tug she’s inherited, motoring up the Pacific coast of Canada on their way to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where they hope they’ll arrive first at a shipwreck whose rescue could pay them an eight-figure reward. McKenna’s on the tug’s afterdeck, brushing her teeth, when a pod of Dall’s porpoises appear alongside, frolicking in the waves.
“Beautiful, aren’t they?” Stacey Jonas said. She’d come out of the wheelhouse with her own toothbrush and a mug of water. “So fast and sleek.”

“They sure look like they’re having fun out there,” McKenna said, making room at the rail so Stacey could join her.

“Sure do.” Stacey grinned. “I love watching them. Any sea creatures, really. Sometimes I think I like animals more than I like human beings—present company excluded, of course.”

“Of course. And Matt, too, I hope.”

“Matt, too,” Stacey said. “And he’s the same way. I never love him more than when we’re both underwater, guiding a bunch of folks around some coral reef. We can’t talk to each other, but I still feel him there with me, and that’s more than enough for both of us. I don’t know what I would do if he didn’t feel the same way.”

You’d get divorced, McKenna thought. Like my parents did. Randall Rhodes had tried to get his wife aboard the Gale Force, when he first bought the tug. Come along for an adventure, he’d told her. You won’t even have to cook. But Justine Rhodes loved the city, loved her home, the proximity of the grocery store and the coffee shop and the park. Try as her father might, McKenna’s mom had never budged. And there was surely no way Randall Rhodes was coming in from the sea, so the marriage had wilted, fallen apart, leaving bitterness, hurt feelings, and a lonely, landlocked daughter, passing time in Spokane and dreaming about the ocean. Some romantic idea of what being a salvage master looked like.
This is actually a pretty good representation of the book, thematically, and of the conflict that most mariners grapple with when they set out to sea. McKenna, like her father, has a love for the ocean and for being out on the water, but it’s hard to build a normal life or any kind of a relationship when your job keeps you out on a tugboat—hundreds of miles from land and within only negligible radio contact—for months at a time. Throughout the book (and sequels, I hope), my rookie skipper has to grapple not only with the long odds facing her team’s salvage operation, but also with the sacrifices that every sailor must make if he or she wants to pursue a life at sea.
Visit Owen Laukkanen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue