Title: Bimini Run
Author: Howard Hunt
Hunt, E. Howard (1949). Bimini Run. New York: Farrar, Straus
Date Updated: January 17, 2017
Reviewed by Ranger on September 8, 2014
A taut psychological thriller from a real-life master of intrigue and suspense, E. Howard Hunt. Bimini Run has a Hemingwayesque feel to it due to both the subject matter and Hunt’s sparse writing style. But the story lacks the existential depth that made Hemingway’s work so rich. What we are left with is a story somewhat lean of soul about a down-on-his-luck gambler named Hank Sturgis who is hired to work aboard the chartered fishing yacht of a rich, decadent couple, Clay and Leslie Crawford. Over the course of Clay Crawford’s obsessive effort to validate his manhood by landing a record-breaking marlin, the Crawford marriage disintegrates with Sturgis caught between the bitter, unstable husband, his shallow, alcoholic artist wife and the charter boat’s captain, a rugged old salt with no patience for either of them. Published in the late 40s, the book avoids the gaudy in-your-face sexploitation of Hunt’s later novels. Instead we are left feeling the raw temptation and emotions of worldly, cynical people trapped by their bad decisions in the same claustrophobic place—a boat at sea with no place to run to or to hide from each other. The violent ending is predictable but still fascinating—like watching a slow motion train wreck. Unlike most of Hunt’s later novels (many written under pseudonyms) Bimini Run is pure psychological suspense. There are no crimes to solve, spies to catch, drug dealers to shoot, or bikini bimbos to jump all over the hero. It’s a classic, one that deserves a fresh reading audience. Bimini Run remains the most interesting early work of the novelist, E. Howard Hunt. People who only know him from his Watergate “plumber” misadventure, his colorful career in the CIA, the ridiculous theories about his involvement in the Kennedy assassination, or from his later, exploitation action novels would be surprised to discover that Hunt won a Guggenheim Fellowship Award for his fiction in 1946. And Bimini Run was optioned to Warner Brothers in 1949 but never made into a film. It’s a pity because the writing style clearly lends itself to screenplay. One wonders what might have become of Hunt as a writer had he focused on his craft instead of joining the CIA in 1950. But he did and the rest, as they say, is history.
For a review of all Howard Hunt fiction books, see Maelstrom (1948)