Evangeline, by D.W. Buffa

Eight stars

D.W. Buffa presents this intriguing standalone legal drama, leaving the reader to serve as thirteenth jury member. The Evangeline is a massive cruising sailboat, destined to make a major journey on its inaugural trip from Nice and around the African continent. However, while out at sea, something went terribly wrong and the few survivors turned up off the Brazilian coast forty days later. Among the six survivors is a body, obviously killed and feasted upon by the others. Captain Vincent Marlowe, one of the six who lived, is brought up on murder charges. Marlowe’s defence is that he had to authorise the killing of one to save the others. In a novel told almost exclusively in the courtroom, Buffa presents the case of the Evangeline and how Marlowe played a role in keeping those who were able to flee the boat’s sinking from perishing themselves. Could Marlowe have done anything else and still kept the survivors alive? What of the boat’s owner, who decided at the last minute not to take the voyage? Was the boat seaworthy? Buffa explores these questions and more in this scintillating story that will leave the reader wondering where they find themselves while the trial progresses and eventually awaiting the jury’s verdict. Recommended to those who love a great courtroom drama that has more twists than simple answers, as well as the reader who is a fan of Buffa’s other work.

I did some binge reading of D.W. Buffa not long ago, but held onto this one for a time. I picked it up during a flight home and could not put it down. How a case of murder on the seas could pull me in so readily surprised me, but Buffa’s style is one that tends to do that with ease. With a large cast of characters and some wonderful developments throughout, I could not help but feel as though I were in the front row of the jury box, weighing all the evidence. Marlowe comes across as less than remorseful, though he is calm in his presentation that there were no options other than to turn on one survivor. As the story moves along, new plot twists arrive with the various witnesses who testify, turning what would seem a fairly straightforward case on its head. The narrative moved along with ease and I was energized to see how things would turn out from the outset. Buffa knows how to lure an audience in and uses his legal experience to weave a tale like no other. This is one novel that does not sink, though I wish it had ascended onto my radar sooner!

Kudos, Mr. Buffa, for another wonderful novel. I cannot wait to see what else of yours I have yet to discover.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons