Reviews

The Stowaway

Patty Osborne

In The Stowaway, a novel by Robert Hough (Vintage Canada), the stowaway is Romanian, the crew is Filipino, the officers are Taiwanese and the ship is the Maersk Dubai. When the real Maersk Dubai landed at Halifax Harbour in 1996, its officers were arrested and charged with the murder of three stowaways. This novel is based on that incident, but the real subject is what keeping secrets can do to people. When a crew member decides to keep a stowaway hidden from the ship’s officers because he knows that the officers will put the man overboard, he and everyone he takes into his confidence become consumed by anxiety and doubt: the Filipino crewmen who are risking their jobs and perhaps their lives agonize over what they should do. Will they be able to hide the stowaway until they find a safe harbour? Hough never sinks into exposition: all the background information we need is revealed through the characters’ acts, thoughts and conversations in a tight, suspenseful story.

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