The fifth in the Wiki Coffin series finds the U.S. Exploring Expedition off Cape Horn, a grim outpost made still more threatening by the report of a corpse on a drifting iceberg, closely followed by a gruesome death on board. Was it suicide, or a particularly brutal murder? Wiki investigates, only to find himself fighting desperately for his own life.
Wiki Coffin plays many parts on the U.S. Exploring Expedition---sailor, linguist, navigator, and, as half-Maori, cultural go-between. But then the brig Swallow reaches the coast of Patagonia, an area infamous for its rough gauchos and revolutionary spirit, and he must take on his other role, that of agent of U.S. law and order.
U.S. Exploring Expedition linguist Wiki Coffin sails with the famous convoy of ships toward Brazil, with no idea of the amazing events the fates and the winds have set in store for him.
As the great flagship Vincennes, under the dubious command of eccentric captain Charles Wilkes, leads the convoy toward a dramatic entrance in the port of Rio, careless maneuvering causes one of the vessels to run afoul of a Boston trading ship--a shocking embarrassment that none of the sailors aboard is likely to live down during their time in port.
Wiki Coffin, linguist aboard the U.S. Exploring Expedition, the famous voyage meant to put America at the forefront of 19th century scientific discovery, brings many skills to his job. Whether he's translating native languages, assisting his good friend Captain George Rochester as unofficial first mate, or upholding the rule of law as deputy to the sheriff of the port of Virginia, Wiki is never far from the action aboard the seven ships that make up the expedition.
The year is 1838, and after more than ten years in the planning, the famous United States Exploring Expedition is set to launch into uncharted waters from the coast of Virginia. A convoy of seven ships filled with astronomers, mapmakers, naturalists, and the sailors charged with getting them around the world, the "Ex. Ex." is finally underway, with much fanfare.
Gareth Ford, with a cloud still hanging over him because of his involvement in the Gwardar Gold Heist, has decided to make a new beginning in the iron mines of Newman. But when he returns home from the night shift and finds his flatmate has been murdered, suspicion quickly falls upon him. He, however, fears he himself was the real target and soon discovers he is being tailed. He summons his old ally from the Gold Squad, DC Rose Kavanagh, and soon they find themselves in Marble Bar, searching for the Gwardar Gold and being pursued by a variety of desperadoes, each with their own agendas.