February 3, 2015
SVU Thriller, Killer at Sea: Sail Away With Me, and Also This Psychotic Kidnapper Who Wants to Kill Us
Summary: I have no idea where this book falls in the series, or why it’s in the middle of a three-part arc. Jessica’s dating Nick, but there’s no mention of Todd, Tom, or even Ryan. Plus, we just had a thriller a couple books ago; there wasn’t really a need for another one so quickly.
But anyway, Nick wants to take Jessica out on a yacht for a week-long vacation. He’s been working on a kidnapping case that hasn’t been going well. It has him in such a bad mood that he’s mean to Jessica, which makes Elizabeth worry about the two of them stuck on a boat together for a week. She gives Jessica Nick’s phone, which he’d asked Liz to hold on to, in case she wants to bail early. I don’t know how Elizabeth would get to her in the middle of the ocean, but okay.
Nick teaches Jessica a little about sailing, which I imagine is similar to that Friends episode where Rachel tries to Joey about sailing but he just wants to eat sandwiches and yell at the Coast Guard. Despite some bickering, Nick relaxes a little, though he admits that he’s on the trip because he was forced to take a leave of absence. He botched the ransom drop in his kidnapping case, letting the kidnapper get away with his victim.
The next day, however, the lovebirds are fighting again. Nick even lets Jessica get hit in the head with a boom. Jessica’s understandably upset and calls Elizabeth to tell her how miserable she is. The connection is bad – a 1997 cell phone in the middle of the ocean would most likely be awful – and all Elizabeth can hear is Jess crying and saying Nick is mad. She thinks something’s seriously wrong, and that Jessica could be in danger.
She has no idea how right she is. Just minutes later, as Nick and Jess make up, they come across a guy in a rowboat, escaping a schooner that’s caught fire. They help the guy, Eric, onto their yacht and learn that the boiler on the schooner exploded, knocking over a refrigerator and trapping the guy’s girlfriend, Katie. Eric left her there, which…jerk, but that’s not the point. While Eric calls the Coast Guard, Nick makes plans to go to the schooner and try to rescue Katie. Except Eric doesn’t call the Coast Guard. He calls time and temperature, then tells Jessica and Nick that the Coast Guard will try to get out there after taking care of a bigger emergency.
At some point Jessica must have read The Gift of Fear, because she thinks something about Eric is off. Yes, he’s hot, but he’s a little too interested in her for a guy whose girlfriend is currently in a life-threatening situation. He brushes against her, then walks in on her while she’s changing. Eric supposedly goes to take a nap, so Nick thinks Jessica will be okay alone with him for a little while. Meanwhile, Nick will check out the schooner and try to save Katie. Jessica takes the extra precaution of jamming a broomstick against the lock on Eric’s door, just in case.
This turns out to be a good move, because Eric quickly flips out and reveals himself to be dangerous. He breaks the door down and chases Jessica around on the yacht. She tries to radio the schooner, but Eric tells her the schooner’s radio is broken – as is the yacht’s, after he destroys it. Jessica tries to call the Coast Guard, hitting redial on the phone, and realizes that Eric never called them. She calls Elizabeth again, since she doesn’t have the Coast Guard’s number (pssst, Jess, try 911), and tells her that someone’s after her. As Eric knocks Jessica out and tosses the phone into the ocean, Elizabeth starts panicking.
Liz heads straight to the marina and tries to get in touch with the yacht, but obviously can’t since the radio’s busted. Time for a hot guy to come to her rescue! This one’s name is Matt, and he’s game to help Elizabeth get in touch with Jessica and make sure she’s okay. It’s a good thing the twins are hot; otherwise I’m not sure they’d have so much male attention right when they really need it.
Nick makes it to the schooner and is able to put out the fire. He finds Katie, and she’s definitely dead…but the fridge isn’t the culprit. As he’s about to leave, he sees the yacht take off. Meanwhile, Jessica wakes up and does possibly the smartest thing she’s ever done: She pretends she’s on Eric’s side. She makes him think she’s into him and happy that Nick is gone. She secretly finds a dart gun, but Eric spots it as well and grabs it before she can. Jessica then tries to drug Eric with sleeping pills, but they don’t do the job. A for effort, though.
Eric has left a video playing on the schooner (I don’t know how he knew this would all work out; don’t question it), featuring Katie. This is so Nick (and the readers) can figure out that Katie is the kidnapping victim, and Eric is the kidnapper Nick has been trying to catch. He feels responsible for Katie’s death, since he would have rescued her if he hadn’t screwed up the ransom drop. Nick remembers that he just left his girlfriend alone with a psycho, so he gets to work fixing the sinking schooner so he can go after the yacht. Meanwhile, Matt and Elizabeth see on his radar that there are two boats nearby, one of which is stalled.
Jessica gets so creeped out by Eric that she decides she can’t keep up the charade anymore. She locks him in a room again and goes out on deck, which is a bad idea since there’s a storm a-brewin’. She grabs the dart gun and decides to sail back to the schooner to save Nick. Eric escapes the room via skylight, grabs the yacht keys, and throws them in the water. Jessica tries to shoot him with the dart gun, but it misfires. Eric starts to use some karate moves on her (he keeps doing karate and it’s really dumb), but a wave makes him lose his balance. Jessica manages to get the dart gun again, hits Eric over the head, and knocks him overboard, unconscious.
Jess is upset over killing someone but is more worried about Nick, so she sails back to the schooner. On said schooner, Nick isn’t able to bail out the water, which is steadily rising. The cold is getting to him, making him hallucinate birds that tell him how to get himself out of the room he’s trapped in. As he frees himself, Eric – not dead, of course – gets back to the yacht.
Elizabeth and Matt get to the schooner as it capsizes, and pull Nick onto their boat. He’s unconscious but alive. When he wakes up, he tells Liz that her sister’s on the yacht with a murderer. Matt’s boat makes it over to the yacht, and everyone reunites happily, especially Jessica and Nick, since she thought he died on the schooner. The four of them try to enjoy themselves a little – why call the trip short on account of a brief homicide-related detour? – not realizing that Eric’s back on the yacht.
Eric finally makes his presence known, grabbing Elizabeth (who he thinks is Jessica) and knocking her out. There sure is a lot of unconsciousness in this book. It should have ended with everyone in the hospital. Anyway, Nick and Eric fight each other, and Eric grabs the dart gun. Just as he’s about to shoot Nick, Jessica pops up. Eric’s confused because a) he thought Liz was Jess, and b) he thought he killed her. Jessica pretends to be a ghost there to get revenge for her murder. This works for a while, and is enough to distract Eric so Nick can try to get the upper hand, but it just leads to another Eric/Nick battle. By the way, Matt has been over on his boat the whole time, just driving around, and hasn’t heard any of the commotion, so he has no idea what’s going on. It’s a fun visual.
Eric smacks Nick around for a while, then chokes him until he’s unconscious. Jessica pretends to be in love with Eric again and makes out with him so Elizabeth can come up behind him and knock him out with a deck chair. Nick regains consciousness during the making out and rubs Jessica’s leg, which she thinks is his approval for her plan. He tells her later that he was trying to get her to come up for air because they were kissing for so long. Heh.
Eric gets tied up until they can all get the police there to arrest him. Matt’s like, “Why are all these cops here? And why does Nick’s face look like hamburger?” Elizabeth tries to gauge his interest in her, and I’d say he’s interested, but he’s heading to Mexico for a few months, so they’re not going to have a relationship right now. Thanks for all your help, Matt. You were…not completely worthless, I guess.
Thoughts: I have to laugh at the idea of Elizabeth not finishing her homework until right before class. She would have had it done five minutes after the previous class ended.
Jessica doesn’t know that you’re supposed to add water when you make soup. How did she make it to 18? Whatever happened to survival of the fittest?
“Elizabeth couldn’t let anything break her concentration, not when she was on the verge of explicating how Willem de Kooning’s Woman II, while being a vile affront to the sense on a purely feminist level, could also be seen as a fascinating synthesis of analytical and synthetic cubism.” That was the bad thing about being an English major. PEOPLE ACTUALLY SAY STUFF LIKE THIS. And it makes perfect sense to them.
If Eric had been telling the truth about how Katie died, killer fridges would have been 2 for 2 in Sweet Valley.
“Jessica floated a tea bag in a mug of cold water and put it in the microwave for ten minutes.” There are so many things wrong with that sentence.
Nick: “I work with crackpots every day, Jess. Don’t you think I’d recognize one if I saw him?” No, because then you wouldn’t be dating Jessica.
I assume a dart gun shoots tranquilizer darts? But why would there be one on a boat? To knock out sharks?