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Gareth Lloyd-Jones is the insecure young commander of HMS Medusa , an obsolete British frigate with a crew of troublemakers currently assigned to the western Mediterranean. When the ship is ordered to Mahon, port city of the Spanish Balearic island of Minorca, Lloyd-Jones finds himself at a flash point of East-West confrontation. On a personal level, he also becomes locked in a struggle with narrator Mike Steele, an English resident of Minorca, for the attentions of Steele's wife, Suzanne. Innes again spins the threads of terrorism, international intrigue, and personal challenges into a novel calculated to please his many readers. Though the story's pace is sometimes slowed by narrative details, patient readers will be rewarded with a high-suspense ending. William C. McCully, Park Ridge P.L., Ill.

On the 50th anniversary of his first novel, which was followed by 26 more, including The Wreck of the Mary Deere , Innes again demonstrates his considerable talents as a storyteller. Michael Steele is a prominent Englishman living with his half-Maltese wife, Soo, on the Spanish-ruled island of Menorca, where he manages a chandlery, rents out villas and charters sea trips for tourists. The arrival of Gareth Lloyd Jones, a British navy officer searching for his treacherous half-brother, coincides with three other events: Steele's marital troubles, a pretty archeologist's tripping upon smugglers, and a separatist movement's agitation for the island's independence and alliance with Moscow. When Menorca's mayor is assassinated, Steele is caught up with political events that place Jones and his aging British navy frigate, the Medusa , at the center of a tempest in a valuable teapot, a strategically important section of the Mediterranean Sea. Innes resists the current temptation to put superpowers at odds in an inflated nuclear situation. In this modest, engrossing adventure novel he shows a skill many of these doomsday authors lack: he fashions an absorbing narrative rich in character and exotic atmosphere. (November)

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