Buy this book at
To Past Reviews Index
Back to Last Page

A Deadly Exchange

Sheryl Jane Stafford

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher :, inc

Published : 2000

Copyright : Sheryl Jane Stafford 2000

ISBN-10 : PB 0-595-15677-0
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-595-15677-1

Publisher's Write-Up

Former POW Matthew Spencer thinks his days of confinement and torture are over at the end of the Vietnam War. Not so. Years later, when he and his wife, Alexandra, embark on a leisurely cruise on their sailboat, they are caught up in another battle, one that involves illegal drugs. As their sloop sails toward the remote Bahamian Cays, the Spencer's are unaware of the deadly white powder concealed inside their yacht's hanging wet locker.

Spencer is forty-eight, tired, a reluctant hero. Alex is thirty-five, naïve, an unlikely heroine. They aren't looking for trouble, but then again, they don't have to. They're carrying it around with them.

A chain of events leaves Matt desperate and alone, while Alex, weak and in shock, is delivered to Raoul, the head of a Columbian drug cartel. US drug agents on a surveillance mission are drawn into the conflict. They agree to deliver Matt to Morgan City, Raoul's private island.

Raoul sounds the alarm when he discovers that Alex has bolted. Alex finds Matt savagely beaten and unable to move. The agents, waiting just offshore, must leave at dawn. The clock is ticking for Matt, for Alex. And for the agents.

Column Ends


Reader Reviews

Why not Submit a Review your own Review for this book?

Review by Chrissi (011001) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
This is a book sent to us by the author, and I would like to thank her for a very enjoyable read. You all know that I am a stickler for detail in stories, I like to hear people being confident in their field. Be it well researched or the zeal of an enthusiast, it is nice when people writing impart an air of authority over that which they describe. Ms Stafford seems to know her sailing boats and the ways of life aboard a small yacht or sailboat very intimately.

I have only read a few boat-based books, the ones that really spring to mind are The Eye of the Tiger, by Wilbur Smith and Bernard Cornwell's Stormchild, which I loved.

The Spencer's have bought a boat, but in order to pay for it, they had to rent it out until such time as they could afford to live on it. Unfortunately smugglers have hidden a valuable cargo on the boat, expecting to rent it as a charter and take their wares with them into America. The discovery that the boat has been taken out of service sends the smugglers into a frenzy, it is not that the illegal wares are worth a huge amount, although that is always a consideration, it is the idea that they cannot be seen to be ripped off - it is a respect thing.

It's here that the story could have become a straightforward thriller, but it has a twist. Instead of starting out on gunfights and shoot-outs, with the plucky hero and heroine outsmarting the bad guys after a bit of bad luck, it is delightfully drawn out, with people's normal behaviour showing that we can upset everybody's best laid plans without meaning to.

The Spencer's are likeable people, with normal personal habits, Matthew was in Vietnam as a POW, but he does not sleep with a complete arsenal beneath his bed, he's not too psychotic or anything, just a normal man. Alex, his wife, is pretty and slim (aren't all people in bookland?) and very happy with her husband and their boat. All they want is to wander about the islands, going wherever they fancy. After all, they have waited for ages to own their boat, and they are now able to live on it - I quite envy them, although my experience of boats is only a car ferry or a small motor boat, and if I had only limited space in which to make my mess, I would struggle badly. (Nigel would probably maroon me on an island, just to preserve his own sanity...)

The fact that through no fault of their own, the smugglers have been unable to retrieve their merchandise, means that the couple find themselves in danger. Although they figure it out, the smugglers have already made the decision of how they intend to remedy the situation. The Spencer's have also underestimated the danger that they are in, thinking that if they hand over the stuff, they will be safe. They do not bargain for people getting killed around them, or for the smugglers being more interested in getting their satisfaction than retrieving their contraband.

There are some truly loathsome characters in the book, the kind that you just think that they have to go - one way or another, that they just cannot be allowed out at the end of the story. They are not interesting enough to appear again, they are just plain nasty. There are some really great ones in books that can be brought back, but only because they are works of such craft that we want to see them again, (for example, Dr Lecter,) but they have to have a redeeming feature, well, Ms Stafford has created ones that are so nasty that they have to go. They are creepy, and will make your flesh crawl - the bit with the freezer is gross - avoid if you are feeling claustrophobic - shudders all round for that little delight...

It plays out very well, although the creepy psychotic smugglers just have to get their due comeuppance, and you will have to read it to find out how it all comes out - well worth a read.
Chrissi (1st October 2001)

Back to Top of Page
Column Ends