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 Shameless Self-Promotion II 
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Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:47 pm
Posts: 64
Location: Connecticut within sight of two lighthouses
Post Shameless Self-Promotion II
Tried to post this in the Nautical Fiction section, but you have to have some sort of special status there.

Review from CT Muse. Just came out today. I don't know Knopf but he's a CT author and finalist in the CT Book Awards. Don't know if he's associated with the Knopf publishing family.

If Patrick O'Brian Read More Noir..., September 18, 2007

Jade Rooster
By R.L. Crossland
Reviewed by Chris Knopf

There are worse things than being compared to Patrick O'Brian. And that's good news for R.L.Crossland, because comparisons between his historical naval thriller/crime story and the tales of O'Brian's Captain Aubrey are inevitable.

Both share an almost hypnotic evocation of the past, with rich descriptive detail and an encyclopedic command of nautical terminology and the vernacular of the times.

Where they begin to part company are the times themselves - for Crossland, it's early 20th century Asia, in particular Japanese-occupied Korea. A time that most readers, even lovers of exotic sea yarns, will find unfamiliar. Crossland's style, like O'Brian's, effectively captures the mood of this extremely alien environment, signaling from the first pages of the book that this ain't Kansas, Toto. So get ready for something completely different.

The other crucial distinction is that Jade Rooster is at heart an intricate murder mystery, complete with a self-possessed amateur sleuth in the form of Petty Officer Third Class Hobson of the U.S. Navy, a full complement of picaresque characters of questionable morality and several very nasty villains.

The triggering event is the disappearance of the merchant ship Jade Rooster, on a seemingly routine voyage from California by way of Hawaii. Not insignificantly, a tender from the freighter, a whaleboat, has been discovered aimless and abandoned with a cargo on board you could reasonably describe as gruesome (the behavior of some of our current jihadi terrorists come to mind, which should give you the drift).

Hobson's parents were missionaries who raised him in the Far East. Fluent in Japanese and Korean, as well as the hard ways of a seaman's life, he's the ideal choice of the Navy to assist the civilian investigation of this heinous crime on the high seas.
For better or worse, he's also a man of independent thought and resourcefulness, temperamentally incapable of towing the party line, be it military or civilian.

The story moves quickly across geographical and cultural boundaries, landing the reader in occupied Korea, a land chafing under Japanese domination. Hobson's own internal conflicts are ignited by his search for the missing vessel, and a brief encounter with a beautiful, and dangerously free thinking Korean beauty from his past.

Along the way, Hobson is swept up in the revolutionary intrigues of defiant Koreans, the magical mysteries of native shamans, the venality of merchants local and global and the underlying geo-political tensions between East and West that will ultimately erupt into global war.

Though clearly an aside, one of the most entertaining segments of the book is an honor race between a rowboat of Hobson's Pluto, a humble collier, and that of the grand warship Baltimore. Hobson has been given the task of recruiting and training the Pluto crew, and the ensuing contest is both an engaging interlude and an opportunity to see more deeply into Hobson's essential nature.

This is a book for careful readers accustomed to complex plots and non-linear narrative styles. And for lovers of military adventures and good old-fashioned detective stories. If you fit into any of those categories, Jade Rooster is a feast.

The reviewer may have done a better job of gauging what I sought to achieve than I did of achieving it!

CAPT Caltrop
"Many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese—toasted, mostly” (Ch. XV, p. 142). -Ben Gunn speaking to Jim Hawkins.

"What happens we have got
the Maxim gun, and they have not."
-Hillaire Belloc

Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:36 pm
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Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 2:32 pm
Posts: 2960
Location: Hawaii
Post Re: Shameless Self-Promotion II
CAPTCaltrop wrote:
Tried to post this in the Nautical Fiction section, but you have to have some sort of special status there.

Sorry about that. I had introduced the status thing as an anti-spam measure, as the spam bots seemed to have been targeting that particular section to post garbage.

However, I have moved your book review to the Scuttlebutt section as your book deals with a more modern period of time.

I have the honour to be, &c.

Tue Sep 18, 2007 5:06 pm
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