I am not really a book worm, more like a book shai-hulud of Arrakis
I’ll be honest. When a post from a fellow cruiser popped up in my Facebook news feed suggesting that I give their new book a try, it was out of solidarity that I considered it. I thought I may never get around to reading it, but hey, help a fellow cruiser out right? Being still caught up in the humdrum of daily commuting to earn the freedom chips needed for the rest of our lives, I spend a lot of time sitting on public transport, and use it to fulfil my reading habit.
The thing is, I have read a LOT of books written by fellow cruisers, and while some are very good, unfortunately, many more tend to be less so. I love reading, but it is mostly in the fantasy and science-fiction genres.
So I clicked the buy button on Amazon and added it to my Kindle cloud library. I’m not certain I ever really intending to read it, unless maybe, I was truly low on options. As I finished my previous book, an action-packed swashbuckling space opera, I went to the Kindle cloud to see what I had stored up in there waiting. I noticed that my recent purchase was classified as fiction, a rarity in the cruiser-writer bookshelves.
What the Heck, Give it a Chance
Right from the beginning, the reader is immersed into the suffocating humidity, earthy smells and exotic sounds of the tropical rain forests of Panama. The story cleverly recounts the timelines of three separate characters (one of these a couple) all in the same location in different eras. The protagonist couple, present day sailing cruisers, find themselves on the trail of a lost cache of conquistador silver and gold while attracting the attention of shady cartel types and self-centred art collectors. The timelines weave together as the story progresses pulling together the pieces of the puzzle and keeping the reader turning the pages.
The descriptions are immersive and the writing is fluid. The author’s first hand cruising experience, is invaluable infusing the adventure/historical-fiction story with a feeling beyond “well researched”, rather more true to life. The reader almost forgets the fictional nature of the book. Anyone who has lived on a boat will identify with the struggles the characters face. You will feel sympathy with Nick’s constant pull between being responsible for the old boat’s upkeep and satisfying Kate’s need to explore ever more distant horizons. At the same time you will relate with Kate’s frustration about Nick’s uncertainty of being far from ailing parents and the “safety” of a nine to five job. The chapter describing in detail the transit of the Panama canal shoehorned into the Gatun lock right behind a cargo freighter actually brought on a hint of anxiety as I read.
As if fictionalising first hand experiences is not enough to draw the reader in, it is clear that vast amounts of research were also done. The descriptions of the realities of a canal worker’s life in the early 20th century or those of a conquistador in the mid 17th century are barely less genuine than those of a 21st century cruiser.
Five stars from me
The Silver Spider turned out to be a real page turner that I devoured in just a few sittings. I highly recommend it to cruisers or non-cruisers alike. The fictional story blended with living experiences is a wonderfully immersive idea that more cruising-writers should immitate.
Mechanic, electrician, carpenter, plumber, upholsterer, rigger, author, painter, sailmaker, navigator, meteorologist and captain of the S.V. Venilia.