Windward Passage by Jim Nisbet – review

August 24, 2010

jim Nisbet-WINDWARD-PASSAGEJim Nisbet is a long time favorite of mine having discovered his work sometime in the late 90’s. The guy has been penning some mighty classics for years now and in 2010, with two new releases and the start of Overlook’s ambitious reissue project of his back catalog, it feels like the time is right for people to get tuned in to his unique world view. Windward Passage is the first of the new releases this year. From the rambunctious and unruly opening section where the reader is just along for the ride to the deep character development and realistic, natural and revealing dialog through to the ending where the reader suddenly finds himself unknowingly deep in another genre Windward Passage is a bold novel that will amply reward the adventurous reader.

In addressing only one of its many facets I can only say that at times Windward Passage reads like a conspiracy novel that realizes how ridiculous conspiracy novels are then plays it with a straight face.

With that said though I don’t know that Windward Passage is the best place for those to start who are new to the unique worldview of Jim Nisbet. My fear is that it is an uncut hotshot that may turn off potential readers. If you are new to Jim Nisbet then I would suggest starting with the Overlook’s reissue of Lethal Injection which has a more readily grounded character and story arc.

Bottom line: Windward Passage is a stunning and wholly unique novel that defies easy categorization.


In the parallel near-future, a ship named for a jellyfish sinks into the Caribbean with its captain chained to the mast. Left behind is a logbook missing ten pages, presidential DNA hidden in a brick of smuggled cocaine, and a nearly- completed novel. Tipsy, the dead sailor’s sister, and Red Means, his erstwhile employer, travel from San Francisco to the Caribbean and back as they attempt to unravel a mystery that rapidly widens from death at sea to international conspiracy.

[Woody Haut does a great job of reviewing of Windward Passage, a book that was a bit hard to review.]

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Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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