Picks and Pans Review: The Island

updated 07/23/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/23/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Peter Benchley

The protagonist is a writer on a newsmagazine (Benchley once worked for Newsweek), and the opening section of this latest sea yarn is deft, funny and not too unbelievable. The presumption is that a journalist could be distracted or dumb enough to take his gun-loving 12-year-old son along on a dangerous investigative job. Then Benchley's obsession with aquatic menaces rears its squishy head. If Jaws owed something to Melville's Moby Dick, this novel draws its strongest elements from High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes' tale of pirates and children, and William Golding's Lord of the Flies. Expurgated a bit, the fast-paced result would be just right for the juvenile trade. As it stands, with sly hints of kinky sex and a fixation on hideous killings by modern-day pirates, The Island will repel most sensitive, sensible readers. (Doubleday, $8.95)

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