On a foggy summer day in 1941, 36 people set out in a boat for a pleasure cruise off the coast of Maine. They are never seen alive again, and their vessel, "The Raven", is never found. Landesman uses this true story as a basis for his eerie, intriguing first novel, telling the tale of a community torn apart by mistrust and tragedy.
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A mystery of nearly a half-century's duration fills the ambitious pages of Landesman's first novel, woven loosely around the apparently real-life case of the Raven, which vanished on June 29, 1941, with 36 passengers and its captain while on a sightseeing cruise off the coast of southern Maine. A central motif of moral turpitude is established when, because of serious misgivings about the Raven's seaworthiness, a prominent Maine banker, without telling his employees of his concerns, withdraws himself and his son from the excursion and sends his secretary and her boyfriend in their place. Meanwhile, the ship's crooked captain, a veteran of maritime fraud, is planning, along with his faithless wife and his treacherous partner, to scuttle the boat to collect the insurance. These dark undercurrents are roiled by the misplaced allegiances of the native lobsterman who first discovers the bodies of the victims and then suppresses vital evidence of foul play. The story line unreels across decades, winding up in 1985 and then twisting back to 1941 to reveal what really happened aboard the Raven. Full of brooding symbolic imagery, the author's elaborate, sometimes overwrought prose conjures well temporal human passions as well as the seemingly timeless, infinite sea. Although Landesman never approaches the introspective resonance of the great sea novels of Conrad and Melville, he has written an intriguing, promising literary debut.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A long-anticipated company outing turns tragic when the charter boat Raven, with 36 passengers, casts off in Casco Bay, Maine, on a June day in 1941 and is never seen again. When the bodies recovered the next day by lobsterman Clayt Johnson and his nine-year-old son, Ezra, are only those of the women aboard and the scantily clad captain, mystery shrouds the incident and rumors abound: that the Raven was both unseaworthy and well insured, that it fell prey to a German U-2 boat, and that the men were somehow spirited off. Forty-four years later, after individual lives and whole communities have been irrevocably changed by the event, three generations of Johnson lobstermen make a discovery and piece together what occurred, which is revealed in its entirety in the final chapter. Although his prose can veer toward being pretentious, first-novelist Landesman does a fine job of depicting men who work the sea, and his descriptions of the sea and its cruel consequences are masterful. Not a book for beach reading, but a worthy addition to fiction collections. Michele Leber
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Book Description Flamingo / Fontana Paperbacks, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0006550487
Book Description Flamingo / Fontana Paperbacks, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 6550487