Delacorte, Aug 2001, 24.95, 368 pp.
When Jack Vermillion returned home from serving his country as a marine in Viet Nam, he came back with titanium for a spine and the drive to become successful as a civilian. Jack takes a tiny shipping firm, Black Water Systems, and soon turns it into a multi-million dollar giant. Perhaps because he has always been a workaholic, Jack's only failure is his son, a resident of the Feds in Lompoc Correctional Facility.
Frantic to help his desperate son leave Lompoc where he is choice meat, Jack finds the avenue when US Army (R) Colonel Earl Pike hires Black Water to illegally ship a gun collection to Mexico. Jack cuts a deal with the Feds to move his son to a less secure facility in exchange for Pike and his collection. However, law enforcement organizations fail to communicate as New York State police officer Cassandra Spandau goes after Pike at the same time. The subsequent shoot-out between the AFT and NYPD leaves several cops dead and everyone blaming Jack.
BLACK WATER TRANSIT is an action-packed police procedural thriller written with intelligence and wit. The story line never allows the reader to blink as Carsten Stroud paints a strong but gloomy look at a government's dirty tricks and Lady Macbeth levels of ambition; no one in authority seems to mind whether an innocent is grinded into chopped meat. Dark humor adds to the edge yet also eases some of the tensions of this powerful plot. Mr. Stroud deserves sub-genre attention because this is one terrific novel.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner