I would not, could not pretend to do an unbiased job of a full, official review of a new novel by a close cousin. I do, however, feel comfortable doing at least this blog post recommending Precipice, a thriller by my first cousin Leland Davis, who is a well-known extreme kayaker, river guide, and publisher of detailed river descriptions for paddlers. I recommend it not because he’s my cousin, but because it’s a heck of a fun read.
The premise is this: A team of former Navy SEALS engages expert kayaker Chip Wilson to teach them advanced paddling skills, in preparation for a mission to take out a Mexican drug lord. Wilson gets sucked in to something much bigger, and more dangerous, than he imagined — something that takes the story through the halls of Congress and into all sorts of unexpected twists and turns.
Now I can say I didn’t like all the plot developments. But it’s a tale told with verve and excellent pacing — one during which, several times, I just couldn’t put the book down when I had planned to (in other words, staying up to read it into later hours than I intended).
The prose, for a thriller, is excellent — muscular, streamlined without being thin, and descriptive enough to give a very solid sense of scene without obtrusively interfering with the forward momentum of the action.
Back in his boat, Chip slid into the water and peeled gracefully into the flow. He lined up for the gut of the falls, leaned forward, and savored the exhilarating feeling as the front end of the boat dropped. His view swung wildly until the tip of his kayak lined up like a gun sight on the point where the falling water exploded into the pool below. He moved his paddle off to the side so it wouldn’t break over this chest or crush his nose on impact and turned his head sideways at the last moment to lead with the crown of his helmet, which crashed into the foamy water a fraction of a second behind the tip of his boat.
Precipice left me hoping that Leland will write another novel. Spectator readers: Order it, and see for yourselves.