When Captain Hooper is approached by his congressman to become the keeper for the new United States Lifesaving Service’s most notorious station, he wants nothing of it. Life as a sea captain is enough for him. But after the congressman tracks him down to meet with him in person, Hooper relents. If he can do it, then he feels he must do it. It was such thinking that led him to become a Confederate blockade runner.
There is a reason why Cape Hatteras station is the last to be staffed. No one else will take the position; not to lead it, and not to man it. It’s too dangerous. But Hooper knows just the men to recruit. With the winter storms on the horizon, this unlikely crew must strive not only to become a cohesive team that can brave the Diamond Shoals, but also overcome the incompetence and bigotry of their fellow surfmen.
Marshall’s earnestness shines through in this debut novel. Perhaps too much. He does a good job of weaving the formation of the Lifesaving Service into the fabric of the complicated politics and culture of Gilded Age America. But his characters are a bit predictable, and Thomas is a bit too perfect. Indeed, he can seem to do no wrong. There are no surprises, and the sensibilities of the characters are modern. That said, it’s an easy read, and like the best of historical fiction, it instructs as well as entertains.