Posted by: Lisa Hill | April 7, 2014

The Boat (2013), by Clara Salaman

I bought The Boat as an airport novel, and it turned out to be a good choice.  It’s a interesting drama, compellingly constructed with a script-writer’s eye, and I romped through it in next to no time.

It begins with a chilling image.  A young man called Johnny is deliberately scuttling a yacht somewhere in the middle of the Mediterranean, destroying all trace of himself and the boat.  The rest of the book unravels the events that have brought him to these desperate moments.

He’s very young, with an even younger wife called Clem, and the pair of them have set off from Britain in search of adventure.  More than a little naive, they have got themselves into a perilous situation in Turkey where not only the criminals but also the police are not to be trusted.  (Which made me wonder, will the Turkish police ever live down that film?)

With the police in hot pursuit they are rescued in the nick of time by Frank and Annie, who are sailing around the Turkish coast on the Little Utopia with their five-year-old daughter Smudge.  Under blue skies and sunshine, the two couples drink, smoke, and philosophise, and far from any tiresome rules and prohibitions, all seems idyllic.

Only of course it’s not.  (Why else would Johnny be adrift on the ocean on his own, eh?)  As the pages whisk by in well-crafted dialogue and strongly visual scenes, we learn the back story of Clem, of Johnny, and – with critical details withheld until late in the novel – also the back story of Frank and Annie.  When Johnny finally works out what’s going on, a reasonably credible alternative is presented to confuse both him and the reader.

The author is, apparently, an actor from the BBC TV series The Bill which I faithfully watched until the scripts began to resemble Days of Our Lives, so I shan’t be surprised if this book makes its way to the screen before long.

Author: Clara Salaman
Title: The Boat
Publisher: Head of Zeus, 2013
ISBN: 9781781855843
Source: Personal library, purchased from Benn’s Books Bentleigh, $27.99


Fishpond: The Boat

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