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An annual conference of technology entrepreneurs and MIT computer scientists on Nantucket. A group of heavily-armed extremists bent on fomenting a civil war. The ferry Nighthawk on a fogbound crossing from Cape Cod to the island with 205 passengers onboard.

None of the Nighthawk’s crew expected anything but a routine workday when they reported for duty that morning, but when the shooting started in the middle of Nantucket Sound it was up to them to protect the lives of their passengers and save their vessel from destruction. These professsional mariners were mostly ordinary people, although there is often something a little offbeat about those who break away from lives ashore to work on the water, like:

Chief Mate Grant Butler, a long-ago windsurfing champion with grown children, who dreams of selling his house and sailing around the world with his wife.

Deckhand Dana McSorley, a high-spirited sailor with a red ponytail and a tragic past, who carries a razor-sharp sheath knife in the small of her back.

Ship’s Cook Justin Boudreaux, who hustles pennies from the crew playing cards in the galley while serving bodacious gumbo straight out of the French Quarter.

Chief Engineer Bo Diddley Jacobs, a calm and thoughtful man who has sailed the seven seas aboard freighters and tankers but refuses to retire, who will defend his engine room like a fierce young lion.

Deckhand Lou Crosby, a former commercial fisherman hardened by decades of hauling nets, who grouses about new hires who won’t pull their own weight, but never speaks of his own teenage military service.

Operations Manager Damien Dalzell, born into the Highland Steamboat Company, who will inherit millions unless he breaks away from the family business to pursue a forbidden romance.

Deli Manager Katarina Dalca, the Romanian beauty who will put her life on the line to speak for the passengers who have become the hostages of an insane messiah.

This is the crew of unique individuals that is adrift on a dead ship, cut off from civilization by pea-soup fog and miles of cold water, strong currents, and shifting shoals. Yet they must find a way to rise together to confront a rising tide of vile hatred before it consumes the lives of all souls onboard.

Only an author like D. S. Cooper, who worked on the water for forty years, could tell this story straight up from the deck plates, with intense realism and stunning action that will keep the reader cheering for the heroes and wondering who among the passengers and crew will live and who will die.

But remember, it is only a sailors’ nightmare–

and pray it never happens this way.