Avid Series Reader's Reviews > Run Afoul

Run Afoul by Joan Druett
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Run Afoul by Joan Druett is the third book of the Wiki Coffin mystery series, set in the South Atlantic Ocean from November 1838 to January 1839. Wiki Coffin is half Maori, half American. He physically favors his New Zealand heritage, so faces discrimination as a "savage barbarian". Wiki is the US Exploring Expedition's linguist, fluent in South Pacific languages. Before the fleet set sail, Wiki was deputized by a Virginia sheriff to investigate a murder. Wiki successfully solved murders in both A Watery Grave and Shark Island; in Run Afoul, he yet again tracks a killer.

Unfortunately Run Afoul begins with a very long, dull buildup reintroducing far too many characters to remember. It's clear the ships were run by posturing, scheming, incompetent officers (except for George, Wiki's friend). When a thoroughly repulsive crew member sickens and dies, Wiki suspects poison. Although it's a relief to all that the victim is dead, Wiki cannot let a killer go unpunished.

To "run afoul" on a sailing ship is to collide with another vessel. However unlikely and improbable, in this story the US Exploring Expedition runs afoul twice in Rio de Janeiro - each time with the same whaler! Owned and captained by none other than Wiki's dad. They're reunited after decades.

The ships remain in port, the botanists collect samples, the collision damage is repaired. Descriptions of Rio's flora and fauna are interesting, as are Wiki's backstory and his Maori culture. Unexpected plot twists near the conclusion turn the seemingly forgotten poisoning into a case of false identity.

I plan to read the next book in the series: Deadly Shoals. I do not recommend reading Run Afoul as a standalone; the series should be read in order for best enjoyment.
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Reading Progress

June 2, 2019 – Shelved
Started Reading
August 30, 2019 – Finished Reading

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