“What a character. Aristotle Socarides is a diver, a fisherman, and a PI who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. He’s the brainchild of a genius—Paul Kemprecos—who knows a thing or two about writing action and adventure. I bow to the master and urge all of you to read this latest installment in a first rate series.”
— Steve Berry
New York Times and #1 Internationally Bestselling Author
“#1 New York Times bestselling author Paul Kemprecos shows once again he is the undisputed master of high-action adventure, better on his own and better than his former co-author Clive Cussler period.
Returning to his roots in Grey Lady, he brings back old friend Aristotle “Soc” Socarides in a rapid-fire tale chock full of historical mystery, cutting edge technology, and sea-going daring-do with so many twists and turns you’ll need to take a Dramamine before you plunge in.
Masterfully paced and brilliantly constructed, this is reading entertainment of the highest order.”
— Jon Land
Bestselling author of The Tenth Circle
“Paul Kemprecos has crafted another winner! The Grey Lady’s dogged and irreverent private investigator Aristotle “Soc” Socarides is a blast to spend time with, and the story’s clever twists and turns will have you rocketing through the pages until the very end. Don’t miss it!”
— Boyd Morrison
Author of The Loch Ness Legacy
Edition #59 – December 1, 2013
By Paul Kemprecos
The Pacific Ocean, 1822
Obediah Coffin crouched in the bow of the open whaleboat under the hungry gaze of the two men who yearned to gnaw the flesh from his bones.
The skeletal fingers of his right hand clutched a pair of dice carved from the tooth of a sperm whale, but he could not bring himself to make the throw.
“Do it!” one of the men growled. His name was William Swain and like Coffin, he was a whaler from Nantucket.
“Aye, Obed,” said the third Nantucket man, Henry Daggett, his voice a bare whisper. “No use putting it off. God’s will be done. What will be, will be.”
Coffin wanted to shout at Daggett that God’s will would be to condemn him and the other men in the boat to eternal damnation for the abominations they had committed, but his lips were as cracked and dry as parchment. He gazed with red-rimmed eyes at the lonely sea stretching to the horizon in every direction.
“God’s will be done,” he mumbled. He took a rattling breath, pried his fingers from the ivory cubes, and tossed the dice without shaking them. They rolled a few inches and came to a halt in a puddle of water that had leaked through the seams of the boat.
A five and a three. Eight.
William Swain cursed, then scooped up the dice, shook them in his cupped hands, blew on his boney knuckles, and gave the whalebone cubes a loose toss, careful to aim for the driest part of the deck where they would have a full roll. They bounced off the base of the harpoon resting post and came to a stop showing two fives.
“Hah!” Swain said. “A ten. Your turn, carpenter.” He picked up the dice with his left hand, placed them in his right palm and offered them to Daggett.
Daggett stared vacantly at the dice lying on the calloused palm.
“Can’t move?” Swain said. The fierce, deep-set eyes under the sloping brow bored into Daggett’s ravaged face. “Your hands were fast enough back at the island when they grabbed for my woman.”
There had been no love lost between the two men since their ship, the Moshup, had set sail from Nantucket Harbor on a sultry August day nearly two years before. The animosity between them was inevitable. Daggett was young and handsome, and his position as ship’s carpenter gave him privileges such as superior sleeping quarters and food and a bigger lay, as shares in the whale oil profits were called. Swain was a harpooner, a misshapen troll of a man whose muscular body and scarred face had been marked by the dangers of his profession.
The crewmates had nearly come to blows on a Pacific island where the ship customarily stopped for supplies. Despite lectures from the captain against the dangers of venereal disease, the men unleashed their libidos on the willing young female natives. A beautiful bronze-skinned woman who had been Swain’s on a previous voyage had been attracted to Daggett. Swain had pulled a knife on the carpenter, only to be stopped by order of the first mate…
My fiction-writing career owes it start to the bad navigation of an 18th century pirate. For it was in 1717 that a ship, the Whydah went aground, reportedly carrying a treasure. In the 1980s, three salvage groups went head-to-head, competing to find the wreck. The controversy over the salvage got hot at times and I thought there might be a book in their story. I developed my own detective, an ex-cop, diver, fisherman, and PI named Aristotle “Soc” Socarides. He was more philosophical than hard-boiled. Making his first appearance in “Cool Blue Tomb,” the book won the Shamus award for Best Paperback novel. After many years in the newspaper business, I turned to writing fiction and churned out five more books in the series.
Clive Cussler blurbed: “There can be no better mystery writer in America than Paul Kemprecos.”
Despite the accolades, the Soc series lingered in mid-list hell. By the time I finished my last book, I was thinking about another career that might make me more money, like working in a 7-11.
Several months after the release of “Bluefin Blues,” Clive called and said a spin-off from the Dirk Pitt series was in the works. It would be called the NUMA Files and he wondered if I would be interested in tackling the job. My wife closed the deal when she said: “What else have you got to do?” The answer was “nothing,” and I took on the writing of “Serpent” which brought into being Kurt Austin and the NUMA Special Assignments Team. Austin had some carry-over from Soc, and another team member, Paul Trout, had been born on Cape Cod. The book made The New York Times bestseller list, as did every one of seven NUMA Files that followed, including “Polar Shift,” which bumped “The DaVinci Code” for first place.