Monday, January 22, 2018

Red Sky - Sailors Take Warning! A Fantastic Adventure at Sea by Carl Brookins

Red sky at night, sailors' delight.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning

“Wow. Look at that sky, will you!” Michael Tanner raised a hand in the soft morning sea haze to shade his eyes against the warm brightening light. Great streaming expanses of pink-tinged clouds poured toward him in long ragged tails. They extended from the horizon in white and flaming yellow streaks as though flung against the sky by an angry God. Bronze and orange flames flared and dropped from the thin cloud bank that lay against the edge of the horizon where sky and ocean met. It was as if the whole eastern sky was ablaze. The streamers shifted and the distant light flickered. 
A nearly naked Mary Whitney scampered to the cockpit to see what her companion was exclaiming over. Tanner was standing on the cabin roof beside the mast above her, one hand lightly resting on the boom of the sailboat. He shifted his gaze to admire the way the morning light lent a fiery glow to the outlines of her body. She stretched and smiled as the sun rose above the cloud line and molded more of its warming light to her curves. She turned and smiled again, this time directly at her husband. “Nice morning, don’t you think? I slept the sleep of the just, which is unusual for the first night out.” She stretched again and yawned. “Unfamiliar boat and all.” 
“Nice morning indeed, and do you remember that old sailor’s rhyme?” 
“Which one is that? Oh yes, ‘Red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.’ Is that the one?” “That’s it. What’s your pleasure? Shall we breakfast before getting under way?” 
“I’m in favor of that, I think,” Mary said. “It’s calm, I can have a swim while you make us Bloody Marys and then we’ll get under way.” She unhooked the gate in the safety lines at the side of the cockpit and winked at Tanner. Then in a single lithe motion she dropped her silk panties, the only garment she was wearing at the moment, and dove cleanly over the side of their sailboat into the warm Caribbean Sea. She made hardly a splash slicing into the water. 
Tanner grinned, breathed deeply and considered again how fortunate a man he was. He watched her progress as Mary gracefully swam a full circle around their chartered Beneteau. He had no intention of going below while she was alone in the water, even if they were securely anchored in this calm and protected cove on the southeast side of Ginger Island. 
“This is great, she shouted. “You better come in here.” She treaded water, one hand resting on the gunwale of the dinghy floating at the stern of the sloop. Then she started another circuit, slower, this time, backstroking rhythmically along.
Tanner grinned, admiring the way the clear water caressed Mary’s naked body. He dropped below, grabbed a big soft beach towel from the counter beside the companionway and shed his shorts. Without a pause he stepped out of his shoes and stormed back up the ladder topside. He dropped the towel and cannonballed into the water a few feet from Mary with a great holler and an even greater splash. “Whoee! You are so right.” Tanner surfaced with a rush. 
“This is really a paradise. How come we’ve never done this before?” 
Mary laughed and swam closer. She treaded water again and slid her arms around his neck. His hands touched her slick sides and slid to her waist, drawing her closer into an intimate embrace. She kissed him, three quick pecks on cheek and chin, feeling his body sliding along the length of her. Then she hooked her heels around his calves and pressed her body completely against him, trapping his legs. 
When they both stopped treading water they slid, smiling, beneath the serene surface. Tanner barely had time to grab a breath before the water rose over his head. A moment later he opened his eyes to see Mary smirking at him through bubbles rising from her mouth as she pursed her lips. Her auburn hair floated around and above her head as together they sank deeper. 
She flexed her hips against him, freed his legs and shoved away toward the surface.

A Tanner/Whitney sailing mystery

By Carl Brookins

If you began to read this book, say, just the first chapter, you'd probably stop quickly, head out to make a cup of tea and think you are starting a wonderful lovers' vacation, on a yacht, no less! In the Caribbean! Wow! I've toured in the Caribbean area, but quickly realized, as the couple could stop and visit small towns along the way, that I could say I've been there. But having Brookins take us to being able to sail to various places, stop and stay were you wanted...well... it's not even close to on a cruise ship and schedule... So I decided to tour a little while sharing my thoughts on the book and setting...

Except for the sound of small waves sloshing against the hull, it was quiet. They had chosen an anchorage closest to the huge rock cliff just past the entrance to the cove. Outside the cove, the almost ceaseless trades sent big rollers across the mouth. The crashing surf could be heard as a pulsing, rhythmic roar that could stir one’s passion.  
The path through the coral reef had been the trickiest of all the Virgins, according to their charts, and it gave them the advantage of privacy. Only the most experienced would choose to join them, preferring the group of anchoring positions in the larger cove of Ginger Island where boats had a straight-in approach. There were already four boats at anchor there and Tanner and Mary could hear the faint sound of music from deck-level speakers and shouts of participants on the boats who appeared to be well-acquainted.  
“I’m ready for a gin and tonic, how about you?” asked Tanner. 
“Umm, not just yet. I’m going to slather on some more sun screen and take my ease on the foredeck for a while. I’ll make due with a bottle of water, if you don’t mind.” Mary took her little mesh bag of tubes and the water Tanner handed her through the forward hatch. She put down the small futon and looked over the quiet anchorage. Her tee-shirt came off quickly and she stripped to her ruby thong, then laid back, totally relaxed. She slathered on sun screen, stretched out and her eyes soon closed as her pulse flattened. 
In the aft cockpit, Tanner sipped a drink and likewise drowsed in the afternoon heat. The trade winds blew ceaselessly around the cliff, and rocked them gently in nature’s embrace. It was a perfect afternoon end to an exhilarating sail that day.

And...the fun, relaxing sexy interlude they'd planned was soon over! For readers too!

Tanner’s head appeared beside the
 anchor chain where it clove the surface. 
He was holding on with his left hand
 and slowly treading water. He stared
 at something in his other hand. 
Mary swam nearer.
 “What have you got there?” she asked.
 “Money. Currency, bills.” 
“A windfall perhaps?”
 Intrigued, she swam to her husband and
 grasped the anchor chain beside him. 
He handed her a damp bill. She looked
 at it and her eyes widened. “Wow, this
 would buy a few drinks at the Soggy
 Dollar Bar, wouldn’t it?”
 “I’ll say. Hundred dollar bills don’t
 turn up very often anywhere, I’ll wager.” 
Mary said, “You would, huh? 
Wager, I mean. 
Where did this come from?”
But this reader was quite pleased because the mystery began quickly, continued on and on, and kept me totally involved. The main characters, Tanner and Whitney, may be "amateur detectives" from a police standpoint, but, these two were among the best of the best I've seen for knowledge and expertise. Of course, it didn't hurt that both of the characters are independently wealthy, intelligent, professionally capable...and have gained a reputation based upon their background skills, and to some extent, their financial status. I was marveling at the brilliance of Whitney and her skills with sailing, while the protective actions of Tanner and his laid-back attitude and humor were engaging. Even after they were targeted...

By then Tanner had found the money...

While in a cove, Tanner had done a survey of the boat and surroundings, only to arise from the water with three one-hundred dollar bills...

They knew they would have to report it, thinking it could even be counterfeit, but that didn't mean it had to be right away, so they decided to stop at The Bitter End Yacht Club at Virgin Gorda to begin inquiring about local officials. That was the first time Tanner thought he saw a boat that seemed to be following or watching them...

Heading into the Club, they found a dinner table and Tanner stepped out to seek information of how to gain directions to the police. He also asked about the British Consulate... and before very long, having been overheard, a man came to their table to offer assistance. Ian McGwean introduced himself and said he was with the British government, offering to help... Was it just a little coincidental, they wondered, but nevertheless talked with Ian for some time...

Only to learn later that he had been found dead...

And the three $100 bills had been stolen from their yacht's cabin...

Tanner and Whitney are married, although Whitney retained her own name, given her business and foundation involvement.
I enjoyed them as a couple, obviously very much in love and happy to be together, while at the same time, other than losing their vacation enjoyment, they make a formidable couple in investigating and helping to solve mysteries... 

But, this time, they were being tracked, watched...and more. They finally realized that somebody might think they had access to the rest of the money or knew where it was. They were the ones being hunted! And getting local officials involved may or may not be a good thing since, as they moved forward, it became apparent that they could not be sure who could be trusted!

Readers continue to learn more about the various nearby islands and enjoy the leisure activities of the vacationing lovers but, the story and danger continues to increase and soon Tanner is taken--gone without a trace!

But with help, Mary had instinctively found her way to a location on Tortola Beach...

“Nice to see you again, babe,” he whispered. “Wondered if I ever would.” Then he passed 

But that wasn't the end... 

As the book continues, the leisurely pace of sailing on the yacht is thrown next into danger, requiring high sailing skills to make the way through tight areas into the open sea. Whew! Soon, it is a page-turner, with readers wanting nothing more for those being chased to see dry land safely. A thoroughly enjoyable mix of romantic pleasure interludes with thrilling, exciting edge-of-your-seat  water racing maneuvers from danger. No doubt that I would recommend this one!

Do check out my review of another novel by this author, Grand Lac and a fun article, THE BIRTH OF SEAN NMI SEAN, PI, AND THE MINNESOTA CRIME WAVE... before you leave.


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