The Devil’s Wind: A Spider John Mystery. Steve Goble. Prometheus Books. September 2018. 272 pp. ISBN#: 9781633884847.
Every great pirate fiction novel seems to begin with a fearsome scene: an arrested pirate about to be hanged and the entire town’s residents gathered to enjoy the scene. It seems to be the nature of piracy – the attractive lure of adventure and the game of choosing death-defying possibilities. Spider Joe has had enough of it all. He wants to get back to Boston, Massachusetts to his wife and two children, with no pirate connections forever.
However, Spider Joe has so many friends, acquaintances and enemies that he’s having a hard time not being recognized and drawn into whatever mischief is happening at the moment. He stays to watch an old friend and pirate be hung; but when he realizes he’s been recognizes, he’s forced to flee because he is wanted as well and the noose awaits Spider Joe’s petrified neck!
Spider, with the help of friends, manages to make it onto the ship, Redemption, but he also knows there is someone else on this ship who knows Spider’s identity, even though Spider is calling himself by an anonymous name for this journey. Fights begin and the booze and violence is flying until Captain Brentwood suddenly appears and violently suppresses the melee. The shock the next morning is tangible when the Captain is found murdered in his cabin. There is a note that attempts others to believe he took his own life, but Spider knows that’s impossible.
The rest of the novel is Spider’s attempt to solve the mystery of the murderer. As in any Spider John mystery, almost every character has one or more reasons to commit the alleged crime. And there are numerous fights in between the insults and dark dialogue flying among this motley crowd.
Was the murder committed by one of the two pirates who actually savor the way they murder their victims? Was it the red-headed gal who is as good as any male pirate? Who set the trap and what’s the danger from the Royal Navy that they could all be arrested and hung?
Steve Goble writes a dashing, adventurous yarn that is so enjoyable one wants to read more tales of winning pirates. Recommend this historical fiction for a nerve-biting, hairy rollercoaster ride to freedom – one hopes!
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