RED RIGHT HAND

By Chris Holm

Mulholland Books, 2016

352 pages, $26

ISBN 978-0-316-25956-9

When the FBI investigates a terrorist bombing in San Francisco, a vacationing family’s cellphone reveals the photo of mobster Frank Segreti, thought killed seven years earlier while under FBI protection. FBI agent Charlie Thompson recognizes Segreti; but the agency, too focused on the bombing, refuses to let her look for him, so she turns to Michael Hendricks, a freelance hitman with a unique sales pitch.

“Red Right Hand” is the second thriller in Portland author Chris Holm’s excellent series featuring Michael Hendricks, a cold-blooded killer who only whacks other hit men. The first book, “The Killing Kind,” established Hendricks as an anti-hero, an ex-military assassin with a clear conscience. Now, however, he is gunning for the Council, the nation’s most powerful and insidious crime outfit, seeking revenge for the murder of his best friend.

Hendricks takes on Thompson’s challenge to find Segreti. Her motive is to protect Segreti as a government witness. His motive is to use Segreti to identify the Council’s member so he can kill the person.

Wounded in a barroom shoot-out, Hendricks is unexpectedly aided by Cameron, a gutsy young woman with special computer and techie skills, and the two unlikely partners search for Segreti amid the smoke, debris and chaos in San Francisco.

And Hendricks is not alone. The Council knows Segreti is still alive and they want him dead. A brutal killer with a hair-trigger temper, and a mysterious multi-national corporation of black-clad mercenaries are hunting for him, too. Segreti alive would be a prize — dead, just as good.

Hendricks and his sidekick use cunning, boldness, technology and considerable violence, but their adversaries are just as determined, resourceful and ruthless. This is fast-paced, action-packed adventure, with several surprising plot twists to add to the excitement.

FROM SEA OF LIFE TO SEA OF DREAMS: A VOYAGE TO THE BAHAMAS AFTER A CAREER AT SEA

By Captain Dave Witherill

Maine Authors Publishing, 2016

176 pages, $14.95

ISBN 978-1-63381-007-8

Obscure Austrian novelist Hermann Broch (1886-1951) once wrote: “Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be a part.” And master mariner Captain Dave Witherill would be just such a man.

Witherill is a graduate of the Maine Maritime Academy who spent 34 years at sea as a mate and captain of cargo ships and oil tankers, and as a mooring master at an oil terminal in the African nation of Angola. But that wasn’t enough sea time.

After retiring from the merchant marine in 2011, he and his wife, Gail (he’s the captain; she’s the admiral), spent more than seven months in 2012 on a 34-foot sailboat cruising the East Coast and the Bahamas. They now live in Cumberland.

“From Sea of Life to Sea of Dreams” is Witherill’s seafaring memoir of those exciting years as a merchant mariner and his retirement voyage to the Bahamas aboard the Pathfinder. Much of the book reads like a cruising guide of the East Coast, the Intracoastal Waterway and the islands of the Bahamas, with journallike narrative of people, weather, events, places and marinas that offer hot showers and laundry facilities.

Best, however, are Witherill’s vivid descriptions of his career as a sea captain, commanding oil tankers on the Alaska-Tokyo route in the stormy North Pacific, hauling cargoes across the Mediterranean and through the Suez Canal, and how bribing foreign port and customs officials was a delicate matter of tact, patience and accepted routine.

Loaded with nautical acronyms, name-dropping and seamanship lessons, the book also reveals what the “Tongue of the Ocean” really is, the hazards of Goombay Smash, and how a chunk of Roquefort cheese smoothed some officious rough seas.

It seems that old Austrian was right.

Bill Bushnell lives and writes in Harpswell.