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McKenna Rhodes is still reeling from her father’s death- one she feels she is responsible for. Working a salvage ship is dangerous work- but the payoff when you pull it off is amazing. Still, her father is a constant reminder that you don’t always win in this gamble.
She left the salvage business, mostly doing day trips and the like- no more big scores. This life, though, just isn’t paying the bills and she needs money- badly. When she hears about The Pacific Lion wrecked two hundred miles out in a storm…. well, maybe there’s a bit of her father in her after all, because despite her better judgement, she can’t resist. With her father’s old crew, she heads out. What they don’t know is that there’s more of interest on that boat than a bunch of cars. A man had stowed away with Yakuza bonds, and the thief’s associate wants the money- but so do the gangsters. With everything on the line, can McKenna prove herself as captain, get the big score, and keep her makeshift family alive?
I have loved Owen Laukkanen for years due to his Stevens/ Windmere books and while I wasn’t sure this one would be up my alley, I had to try it. The author starts slowly, as usual, drawing you into the character’s world; but once he catches his stride it’s non stop action. I felt for McKenna and the amount of guilt she carried, the chip on her shoulder at times getting in the way of making the best decisions. I also loved the rest of the crew, especially Ridley. Harrison Court was a mixed bag for me. He was brash and ridiculous at times with a touch of Peter Pan syndrome. What I liked about him, though, was that he was growing up- he understood what he lost with McKenna so long ago and he had no bones about letting her know he wanted another chance. I did not like the fact that he often treated her like she wasn’t his boss- not listening to orders. It happened so often that I found myself wondering if this man could really be worth the hassle.
Each character on the team was well developed and interesting with their own past and stories. I love how Laukkanen can draw you in to the character- they are always so well fleshed out that you could almost touch them. I do feel like he didn’t give the Yakuza characters as much definition- they seemed a bit cookie cutter- but it was a minor thing for me. Looking through other reviews, I see a few talking about the technical verbage- and there is a lot, but I don’t feel it was over done. There was never so much that I was drawn out of the story. The writing was perfect, the plot interesting and the book had an even flow- after about the first twenty pages. Hey, there was a lot to introduce! This is a fast paced adventure that I think will not only please Laukkanen’s older fans, but bring him a new crowd as well. For me it is a five star book.
On the adult content- there’s some language and violence. Nothing over the top. I would say that this is fine for an older teen- I have seen far worse in comics lol. Let’s give this a four.
Gale Force by Owen Laukkanen This was a very interesting look a how sea-going salvage tugs operate. It was also a study in interpersonal relationships and how they can be impacted by the lure of riches. Gale Force, book title, ship name, and company name wer all Makenzie Rhodes love. She grew up on the ship and after her father’s untimely demise she became Captain. Her insecurities prevented her from following in her father’s footsteps until an opportunity arose that forced her to face them. A large cargo ship needed to be salvaged and perhaps saved before it caused an ecological disaster. Adding to the plot is the theft of millions of bearer bonds from the Japanese Yakuza and a botched romance between principal characters. This was a well-done and intricate plot. I particularly liked the way the author neatly wrapped everything up. I like when that is done.
I've long been a big fan of Owen Laukkanen's series featuring F.B.I. agent Karla Windermere and Minnesota B.C.A. agent, Kirk Stevens, and as a result, I was a bit disappointed to learn that his new book, Gale Force, would be a thriller rather than another entry in the Stevens and Windermere series. However, that disappointment lasted only about three pages into the prologue of the new book, by which point I was thoroughly hooked.
At the center of the novel is a woman named McKenna Rhodes. As the result of a tragic accident which took her father's life, McKenna has become the captain of a salvage vessel named the Gale Force. As a woman in what is most definitely a man's world, she faces any number of serious obstacles, but in addition to that, she still bears the psychological scars of the accident in which she lost her father. As a result, she's been playing things very close to the vest and taking relatively small, safe jobs. Sadly, though, small, safe jobs are not enough to pay the bills and keep a boat like the Gale Force in business.
An opportunity for McKenna to save the business and to prove herself arrives when a huge Japanese cargo ship, the Pacific Lion, rolls over and begins sinking in a heavy storm two hundred miles off the Alaska coast. The ship, which is carrying five thousand Japanese automobiles, is abandoned, making her fair game for salvage hunters, including McKenna, if she has the nerve to tackle the job.
It's a huge gamble, given that just getting to the Lion would basically put McKenna on the brink of bankruptcy. And while the potential payoff would be worth millions, any number of things could easily go wrong: Another salvage team might beat the Gale Force to the sinking ship. Even if McKenna does get there first, saving the ship and towing it safely to port would be a daunting, dangerous, and perhaps impossible task. The weather could easily turn against her and doom the mission. In any such event, there would be no payout at all, and she would lose everything.
McKenna decides to gamble on this one last chance, not knowing that there's another element of risk involved. A thief has stolen $50 million worth of bearer bonds from a group of gangsters and smuggled himself aboard the Pacific Lion. When the ship founders, he is forced to leave the bonds on the ship, The gangsters to whom the bonds belong are resourceful and merciless, and they will stop at nothing to reclaim their property.
Laukkanen, who descends from a family of boat builders and commercial fishermen, obviously knows his stuff, and he takes these disperate elements and very skillfully weaves them into a gripping, heart-pounding story. He's especially good at developing plot twists and crises large and small, and then expertly manipulating the tension level. It's a wild, roller coaster ride that kept me glued to the pages well into the night. All of the characters are very well drawn, and McKenna Rhodes is a very appealing protagonist. I certainly hope that we'll see more of her (and of Stevens and Windermere, of course), but Gale Force is a book that will be right at home in the beach bag of anyone looking for a great summer read. An easy 4+ stars.
Very exciting seagoing adventure filled with likeable, believable characters and ;plenty of suspense. Even the bad guys - Japanese Yakuza gangsters - come across as pretty decent human beings. I heartily recommend this novel, which is a welcome departure for Laukkanen from his Windermere and Stevens series, which has frankly kind of worn out its welcome. With me, anyway. McKenna Rhodes is a young sea going salvage tug captain with a crew and a boat she inherited from her father, a legend in the salvage business. As the story opens she is so broke she has to take out a mortgage on the boat to be able to finance an effort at salvaging the Pacific Lion, a giant freighter full of 5,000 Nissan cars. I won't spoil the story by telling you what happens - suffice it to say that you will really enjoy the read and the rollicking ride. I heartily recommend this novel and hope that Laukkanen turns his focus to more suspense novels like this.
This is my first Owen Laukkanen book and it won't be my last. Gale Force has great characters, suspense, intrigue and had enough realistic twists and turns that it felt incredibly plausible. I like that this book didn't go overboard with crazy scenarios and waiting until the very end to tell us if they could literally right the ship. I also really enjoyed having a strong, bad ass female lead. I'm not a seafaring guy and yet I was able to easily connect with the characters and the story. So while this book was a bit different than what I normally read in the thriller genre, I thought it was fantastic and highly recommend it. Hope there are more adventures to come for the Gale Force crew.