Close To Shore
by Michael Capuzzo
Broadway Books/$24.95

Pulitzer Prize nominee Michael Capuzzo wants to frighten you. In his first full-length book, Close To Shore, Capuzzo tells the true story of a man-eating shark off the Jersey shore during the summer of 1916. Aside from a rather slow beginning and a lack of pretty pictures to appease my hamster-like attention span, the book is a very enjoyable read.

The first half has an interesting format, with changing points of view virtually chapter by chapter. First we learn of early 20th century American high society and its recreational habits on "the shore." Capuzzo then begins writing intermittent "sharks-eye view" chapters that begin to personify the beast as the story's main antagonist. While burgeoning industrialists and wealthy socialites enjoy champagne and political banter on evening cruises off shore, a new terror lurks beneath the surface.

Finally man and shark meet in a climactic battle of wits and cunning. This makes for some exciting showdowns. Capuzzo gives detailed accounts of five attacks over a two-week period, using news archives, personal accounts and a little artistic license to tell the story.

Although the beginning of the book seems to drag at times, it does serve to heighten the reader's anticipation, ultimately making the real "meat" of Close To Shore much more satisfying. A painstaking researcher and talented storyteller, Capuzzo has given us something to think about the next time we head to the beach this summer. Now if he could only add some more pretty pictures. ...

—Adam Reeder

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