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In search of lost treasureThe Nautical ChartArturo Prez-RevertePicador 1699 pp465Towards the end of The Nautical Chart the central character Coy finds a turtle caught in a net He dives into the sea to free her slashing away at a thousand feet of fishing mesh that trap her until finally she swims off exhausted trailing blood that turns the water pink and without much of a chance But at least he thinks she will die where she belongs in the open seaArturo Prez-Revertes fifth book is subtitled a novel of adventure and its a great yarn ripping along on a tide of piracy treasure-hunting love and betrayal But it is also a novel about adventure whose characters are haunted by tales old and newFrom The Odyssey to The Maltese Falcon Lord Jim to Red Rackhams Treasure stories of heroism and romance tempt them and help them chart their lives But plastic drums and turtle-trapping trawler nets litter the Mediterranean Global-positioning satellites do the hard navigational work for us and it remains to be seen whether there is any mystery or romance leftCoy is a quiet stoical merchant seaman who has consciously modelled himself on the heroes of Stevenson Melville and Conrad A little adrift on land he is in his element at sea And if his moral course may not always exactly be in line with the law it is utterly reliable and consistent a fixed point from which soundings can always be taken Prez-Revertes reliance on seafaring metaphor which was a bit much for me once or twice - is clearly catching In this clever authors hands Coy is at once an archetype and individually flawed fiercely masculine and a little stupid and vulnerable with itScapegoated for an incident that wasnt strictly his fault and barred from sailing for two years Coy is hanging around an auction of shipping memorabilia when he meets a historian from the naval museum in Madrid Tanger Soto is an
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