On the open waters of the Pacific, a couple encounters a stranded madman Rae and Ingram are nineteen days out of the Panama Canal, sailing slowly across the wide, flat Pacific on the Saracen, when they find Hughie Warriner in his dinghy. He was on a pleasure cruise in his yacht, the Orpheus, he says, when food poisoning killed his passengers and his ship began to sink. After an alleged ten days of desperately fighting to stay afloat he spied the Saracen, and rowed to his salvation. Finding the stranded yacht, against Warriner’s wishes, Ingram boards the stranded Orpheus. There he finds Warriner’s passengers—very much alive, and hungry for revenge against the man who attacked them and left them to drown. Ingram tries to get back to his ship, but is too late. Warriner escapes with his yacht, taking Rae hostage, and Ingram hasno means to save them but tattered sails, a sinking ship, and rage that burns hotter than the merciless Pacific sun.
About the author
Charles Williams (1909–1975) was one of the preeminent authors of American crime fiction. Born in Texas, he dropped out of high school to enlist in the US Merchant Marine, serving for ten years before leaving to work in the electronics industry. At the end of World War II, Williams began writing fiction while living in San Francisco. The success of his backwoods noir Hill Girl (1951) allowed him to quit his job and write fulltime. Williams’s clean and somewhat casual narrative style distinguishes his novels—which range from hard-boiled, small-town noir to suspense thrillers set at sea and in the Deep South. Although originally published by pulp fiction houses, his work won great critical acclaim, with Hell Hath No Fury (1953) becoming the first paperback original to be reviewed by legendary New York Times critic Anthony Boucher. Many of his novels were adapted for the screen, such as Dead Calm (published in 1963) and Don’t Just Stand There! (published in 1966), for which Williams wrote the screenplay. Williams died in California in 1975.
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