Most of the reading that I do about sailing is of a technical nature, but reading about how to get the perfect coat of varnish, racing tactics, or high-latitude cruising can get a little dry. Once in a while I really want a diversion — a good yarn to pass away the cold winter nights. This suspense thriller, which entwines a cruising couple in a murder mystery fit the bill for me. Easing Sheets may be what you’re looking for, too.

The story starts with a couple setting off on their first extended cruise — from the Channel Islands of California, to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. When they happen to cross paths with a suspicious group on a stolen boat, the excitement begins. In fact, they repeatedly cross paths during the trip south. The story culminates in an exciting conclusion in Cabo San Lucas.

Lori Lawson tells a credible, entertaining story, wrapped around the cruising life. Her experience as a sailor is obvious here. Her descriptions of boat handling, sailing, and the cruising community are accurate and are an enhancement to the story, rather than being the reason for the story. This is a contrast to some works that overemphasize the sailing content, at the expense of a good story.

Overall, this is a very entertaining book. It overcomes a somewhat slow start and quickly develops into a book that you will have trouble putting down. It’s a book that will be appealing to anyone who enjoys a good thriller — not just sailors — which in my opinion, is an indication of a well-written book. The fact that it can help snowbound sailors survive the winter is just an added benefit. It’s not a must read, but I would recommend it nonetheless.

Easing Sheets by L.M. Lawson  (Paradise Cay Publications, 2002; 230 pages)