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Birds of Prey (The Courtneys)
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More historical suspense from the best-selling author of The Seventh Scroll (LJ 4/1/95). Here, a father-and-son team prowls the oceans in search of riches. A 200,000-copy first printing.

"Constant excitement...ÝA fast-moving tale. What could be better for the beach or backyard?"--"The Washington Post Book World" "ÝA rousing adventure story...Smith is a captivating storyteller."--"Orlando Sentinel" ""Birds of Prey" is a wonderful novel filled with excitement, pirates and vivid sea battles. The heroes are handsome and memorable and overcome tremendous odds to defeat unscrupulous enemies, to remain honorable and wise and always win the fair maiden in the end...In short, it is vintage Wilbur Smith."--"Times Record News" (Wichita Falls, TX)

Swashbuckling adventures at sea and on land highlight Smith's latest (after The Seventh Scroll), a number-one bestseller in England that's likely to climb the charts here. Set along the African coast during the mid-1600s, this fierce and bloody yarn features Hal Courteney, a classic seafaring hero in the making. The young sailor has been raised under the stern tutelage of his father, Sir Francis Courteney, and the somewhat gentler guidance of his African-born mentor, Aboli. Word of a truce between England and Holland doesn't reach Sir Francis in time to prevent him from capturing a treasure-laden Dutch galleon. Falsely accused of piracy, the Corteneys soon have more enemies than they can handle, including the insatiable libertine Katinka van de Velde, who sets her sights on the Courteney charge. Hal's coming-of-age is predictably spiced with romance, sea battles, imprisonments, daring escapes and an exotic voyage from Southern Africa to the Red Sea; even buried treasure and the Holy Grail figure into the plot, as befits a tale of uncompromising good guys and their irredeemably evil enemies. Smith's depiction of the African coast, and of life aboard ship, is vivid and believable. He handles the action sequences well, opting for short, trenchant paragraphs to sustain momentum. After 27 novels, Smith knows what his readers want, and once again he delivers the goods. Major ad/promo. (July)

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