The Downeaster: Deadly Voyage

Written by Paul Thomas Fuhrman
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

It’s 1872 Boston, and a clipper, a downeaster named Providence, is ready to set sail under Captain Isaac Griffin. He is also part-owner, along with William Christison. Griffin’s attorney, George Priest, asks Christison if his son Nicholas can sail along as an apprentice seaman.

Griffin is in love with Kayleigh MacKenna, who is Irish-Catholic. Her father is against any marriage between the two, primarily because Griffin is a Protestant. Griffin marries Kayleigh without her father’s permission, but when her father learns of the marriage before the Providence sails, her father is coerced by the Irish Clan na Gael to accept the marriage and force Griffin to smuggle guns to Ireland.

Based on a historical log of a sailing trip around Cape Horn in 1872, this novel has three separate protagonists – Griffin, the ship’s captain; young Nicholas Priest, apprentice on board and sailing for the first time; and the love interest in Boston, Kayleigh. Each one tells their own story during the ship’s passage to San Francisco from Boston. Intertwined is the Irish threat of illegal gun-running. As the story moves toward its climax, the excitement intensifies on board the Providence. A highly recommended maritime tale with interesting characters; a real pleasure to read.