Gene J. Parola
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Two yacht deliverers attempt to return a boat from the Bahamas to its owner in Miami.
Sven Olafson and Matt Blair, a yacht delivery crew, pick up a client's boat at an isolated anchorage in the Bahamas. Even before they board, they find the body of GULL's boatkeeper in her dinchy. Shadowy figures board GULL in the night, threatening to tow her away to be dismantled in search for a mystery canister that's hidden aboard. The crew outsmarts the aggressors and escapes with their charge in tact, but the pursuit is on. A delelict boat surrenders a mysterious trapped woman. And upon reaching port, another just as mysterious, precipitates a confrontation in the smoky bowels of a burning casino ship. She may be the cause of the final confrontation at midnight in the middle of the Gulf Stream.
Matt did not lead an uninteresting life, but it had never been this interesting. Until yesterday, he had not seen an automatic weapon up close. But now in less than one normally tranquil, tropical night, his life had been threatened by two.
Once I had thought to begin this report with the abovc incident. My editor had approved that lead when it was a Sunday feature piece. But before it got to press, the several smelly aspects that made up the larger hard news story caused everything to be safely snuffed out. With no explanation.
Sven, the delivery captain, had called it incident number two in his testimony before the Coast Guard Board of Inquiry. But it was actually number four as it related to GULL's delivery. And that series of events, however harrowing and terminal, paled almost to insignificance when placed in the larger context.
And that context did not begin to jell until the 1963 meeting in the Chinese restaurant on I street in D.C.
But I have only Carlos' story about that parley. The official records of both sides are, of course, silent about it. No surprise there. And Carlos has never surfaced since the shooting in the wee hours of that pivotal night in Miami years later.
Leda's discovery is not the best place to begin this larger story because Matt would never have been confronted by the Uzi except for errors and chance. Had the giant not mistaken her for his actual target, the cruiser would not have been a derelict and fair game for scavengers. And if not for Diego's single wild shot, Sven would never have risked stopping at the derelict.
Leda's entry into the affair, while dramatic and early, is not so significant as the pivitol role she played later, at what one agency report termed the "Biscayne Incident".
As for the other women, Flash and the party girl, they are not starters either, for they flip into the deck--cards being shuffled--space and time separting them. And there they stay until all were dealt in the single hand played out in the dark lower deck of the burning casino ship. That one of them was a trump card impacts GULL's story only after the fact and she had no effect on the final moonlit confrontation in the Gulf Stream months later.
And Sybil was the wildest of cards!
"An absorbing tale of hidden motivations that keeps the reader guessing until the end. The Devil to Pay is enthusiastically recommended for those mystery buffs who appreciate a well crafted tale of intrigue and suspense."
Midwest Book Review
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Book Publisher: Writers Club Press
No. of Pages: 285