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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Greenlaw, Linda: Slipknot

  Amazon  

3.5 stars

Jane Bunker moved north from Miami only days before Nick Dow, the town drunk of Green Haven, Maine, washed up on the beach with his head bashed in--possibly the result of a drunken fall, but maybe not. Jane, who'd been a homicide detective in Florida, is among the first to see the body, and though it's no longer in her job description--she's now a marine insurance investigator--she decides to investigate the death on her own by way of having a hobby. The more she looks into the death, the more fishy it seems to be. Jane suspects it's connected to the hot-button issue that's got the town riled up, the proposed creation of a wind farm off-shore, which would likely have an adverse effect on the town's cod fishing industry.

Jane is a likable protagonist, frugal in speech and finances. We're given to understand that she is running away from her old life in Florida while at the same time returning to her roots. Jane's mother was from Green Haven. She left family behind when she abandoned Maine--running away from something, just as her daughter would--during Jane's childhood. This back story will presumably be fleshed out in subsequent installments in the series. Greenlaw here introduces a number of characters who will likely be regulars: the laconic, slightly hunchbacked Cal, who's fast becoming her friend and accomplice; her frequently sloshed landlords, who are moving into position as surrogate parents; the brash young waitress at the local diner; a potential love interest. It's a cast I'll be happy to spend further time with.

Greenlaw has previously published a handful of nonfiction books, including The Lobster Chronicles and All Fishermen are Liars (see my review) based on her years of experience at sea. (In addition to writing, Greenlaw is the captain of a lobster boat.) Her first foray into fiction reads well for the most part. The mystery held my interest. The writing and the story flow well with a couple of jarring exceptions. There are two scenes in the book which don't work because they are so unrealistic: one at the diner in which Greenlaw has the waitress dramatically narrate events from the previous night's town meeting, and later in the book a sort of catfight between Jane and a local socialite. There is in addition one character--Ginny, a monster of the local fishing industry--whose behavior is too over-the-top to be credible.

My lack of familiarity with naval terminology was not an issue for most of the book, but there is a climactic scene toward the end that I probably would have enjoyed more if I'd had a better idea of what was happening. But even without knowing a turnbuckle from an outrigger I could understand the tenor of what was going on--grave peril and high drama at sea.

I liked Slipknot and look forward to more from Greenlaw. Next up is the series' second knot-titled installment, Fisherman's Bend.

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