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There's a hard-boiled plot that starts with a disaster at sea. There's stolen gold and gun-play. There's suspense, there's a good guy, some really bad guys, and at least two complex characters who contain a modern amount of both good and bad. One of whom is a dame.
The book has a beautiful language to it, and each word delicately paints the picture of every moment from his departure on the ship, to the very terrible moment his plans of a smooth voyage take a turn for the horrible.