White Cargo – Stuart Woods

December 2, 2016

Stuarts Woods’ skillful writing brings another mystery thriller in White Cargo, published by HarperCollinsPublishers, copyright 1988.

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This tale begins on a sailboat vacation from Fort Lauderdale to the Panama Canal and then on to the Pacific Ocean. Wendell “Cat’ Catledge, his wife Katie, and their daughter, nicknamed ‘Jinx’, are boarded by pirates from the fishing vessel Santa Maria off the Colombian Coast near a seaport named Santa Marta.  His first mate, Denny, turns out to be affiliated with the pirates and shoots Cat with bird shot from a shotgun, rendering him unconscious.  Cat awakens to find his wife and daughter murdered and his sailboat sinking quickly.  With no choice but to abandon ship, Cat eventually makes it back home with the help of the Mexican Coast Guard and the American Embassy.

After months of mourning he receives a mysterious phone call: “Daddy?”.  It could only be Jinx still alive and captive somewhere in Colombia.  He sets off to Santa Marta to pick up her trail with the help of the CIA.  The Agency wants inside info on the drug cartel that is believed to have been instrumental in Jinx’s abduction.  He employs a Spanish-speaking Australian who is of great help in locating Cat’s daughter as he is quite familiar with the area and Colombian cartels.  ‘Bluey’, as the Australian is known, is a talented small-plane pilot.

Bluey is killed while they fly from one tiny gravel airport to the next, getting ever closer to where they believe Jinx is being held.  Luckily Cat meets and employs a photojournalist, Meg Greville, who is willing to help on Cat’s quest as long as she can bring her camera.  Meg, always after a story, proves to be very useful in locating Jinx and Cat becomes close friends with her; their determination to complete Cat’s mission holding strong.

Stuart Woods keeps the pages turning, the bullets flying, and the cartels second-guessing for an adventure you may not soon forget.  Woods is very descriptive of the terrain and the people who inhabit this mysterious country.  As he describes the heat, the terrain, and the buzzing biting insects you are led through the experience of being in the Colombian wilderness, it will make your skin itch. Read this book, if you can keep your heart beating.


Paul Webster

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