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Close-Hauled: A Sim Greene / Figaro Mystery (Sim Greene / Figaro Mysteries) (Volume 1) Paperback – October 9, 2016
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"Sim Greene, a modern-day liveaboard sailor...finds a murder victim outside Ventura Harbor. The discovery shoves him down a twisting, unknowable path that pits his intelligence and intuition against those determined to take not just his life, but also the lives of those close to him." - Cruising World (September 2017)
"A crime mystery filled with Southern California liveaboards, sailboats, powerboats, cruising dreams, and a victim's body, discovered by our protagonist off the harbor jetty. Rob Avery unfolds a smart whodunit with impeccable timing, dead ends, creative twists, the right pace, and a cast of salty characters who propel the story with ample dialogue." - Michael Robertson, Editor, Good Old Boat.
About the Author
Rob Avery is a criminal defense attorney, sailor, and author. Rob was born in 1956 in Burbank, California, but spent as much time as he could at the beach or in the Pacific Ocean. He got hooked on sailing when his older brother borrowed a small sloop and took Rob on his first day sail out of Marina Del Rey. Rob was eight. Now he is a criminal defense lawyer by profession with a passion for sailing. His writing combines the two. Rob also hates referring to himself in the third person but can do so when pressed.
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Set in current time, we meet a navy detective who is assigned a mysterious case of murder. He's a likable character, not too politically correct and certainly has an independent streak. He's developed, real and so are his buddies and enemies. I found myself unable to put this book down. At moments I'd be taken to a secret bay off the Channel Islands. At other's I'd be in southern California traffic sorting out a pretty complicated set of plots, motives and circumstance. What starts as a great read gets more and more exciting. The body count does climb exponentially as Sim (the hero) spirals closer to several surprising truths.
I won't spoil any surprises in this review. Read and discover for yourself.
I loved it. Hated to reach the end because I won't find a book this fun and enjoyable in a long time.
1) Convinced that I have effortlessly absorbed and can now throw around enough nautical terms, jargon and seaman’s life perspective to pass myself off as a seasoned sailor to at least the novices hanging around the docks;
2) Suspicious that Avery might well actually be a retired Jason Bourne settling down to tell his life story through the various characters in his novel; and, (regardless of the accuracy of either of the two preceding conjectures)
3) Absolutely convinced that this book represents the crossroads of equal passions for the sea and a gripping whodunit, coupled with a deep and rich background painted through Avery’s obvious countless hours of research and life experience.
Close-Hauled’s protagonist, Sim Greene, takes us through the story in the first person, providing depth to his world though frequent glimpses of almost stream-of-consciousness narrative that put the reader in the moment and bring the surroundings to life. The short-chapter format was a very welcome feature for me as I find my opportunities for reading all-too often sporadic and overly brief. The net effect is that Avery’s writing is very easy to get into and read on your terms … except that you find yourself extending those “reading times” more and more as you go along and fail to see (or ignore outright) the chapters flying by.
A highly recommended read and looking forward to Avery’s next work, Broad Reach, which he introduces at the conclusion of Close-Hauled and which sees Sim off to new horizons and, without question, another precarious conundrum to resolve.
I would have loved to have read this book on a nice warm beach but I probably would spent a lot of time looking around to see if anybody was going to stab me. It is a great book that combines the sea and sailing with a good murder mystery. I was hooked at the first page and couldn’t put it down.
Sim Greene seems to be the kind of guy I’d like to go sailing or spearfishing with; his buddy Al Higgins is the kind of guy I’d want on my side in a fight. They and the other folk who live aboard their boats at Channel Islands Harbor are believable three-dimensional characters and the story builds into a more exciting yarn with each chapter. The interplay between Sim and Al is wonderful and, at times, very funny. And it’s great to see an old guy like Al who is still dangerous when he needs to be.
The book is pretty family-friendly for a murder mystery. If you really need the foulest language and explicit sex in your novels, then you might be disappointed. I loved it. It is great to see an author who can write a compelling and entertaining story without going too far in that direction.
At the end, the author included the first chapter to “Broad Reach,” the second book in the series. I don’t know if every book will be titled after a sailing term but if they’re as good as “Close-Hauled” and that first chapter of “Broad Reach,” then I hope Rob Avery keeps writing them for a long time.