In 1969, Jake Thomas made his first voyage as deck cadet aboard the SS James Wait. The American freighter wasn't meant for passengers. But despite the captain's misgivings, several passengers traveled from Subic Bay to San Francisco. Among the passengers was a missionary, his beautiful, young wife and their two children.
The captain was sure nothing good ever came from having a woman aboard and he was right. The young wife was murdered. Forty years later, her grown children want Jake to help them uncover the truth about what really happened that night the ship made landfall.
In this riveting story-within-a-story, Jake’s peaceful routine in Portland, Oregon, stands in stark contrast to his days as a merchant seaman in Subic Bay, when he set off on a journey to discover his dark side. A journey that hasn’t yet ended.
Like Joseph Conrad, Joseph Jablonski has created a novel set at sea that is as much a careful observation of human nature and a powerful condemnation of war as it is a fascinating sea story.
The Story Behind the Story.
About a year ago, Danny Wynn (Man from the Sky, Lucien and I) told me he’d passed along information about Bacon Press Books to his friend Joe. Joe lived in Oregon, traveled to New York often, was a good writer with a novel he’d like to publish.
We’re always pleased to get a good recommendation; we were looking forward to hearing from him. I read Joe’s op-ed piece in the NY Times ("Pirate Nights," 2011). I looked at the one book he’d already published - Three Star Fix. This sounded interesting. But. A few days later, Danny wrote to say his friend Joe had died suddenly. He was only 58.
Skipe ahead a few months. Joe’s son Peter, an artist living in California, contacted me. He said he’d told everyone in his eulogy for his father that he was determined to fulfill Joe’s dream of having his book published. He and his mother, Darlyn, would like to go ahead. Would I take a look at the manuscript?
By this time, we were no longer so new to publishing that we thought every story had potential. We’d seen our share of novels that just weren’t ready to be published. But this one - Landfall - was good. Really good. It felt complete, so editing wouldn’t be a problem. It reminded me of Joseph Conrad, in a good way.
Would it be difficult to promote a book without the help of the author? Probably. But the book was so good I was sure it would find an audience anyway.
Maybe we were newer to publishing than I wanted to admit. It’s been tougher getting the word out than I thought it would be.
Landfall has received a few excellent reader reviews, but not nearly what this book deserves. So we’re offering it for free from June 17th to 19th.
We hope you’ll take a chance. Add it to your summer reading list. Tell your friends.