San Francisco drug dealer Bruno Felkin shoots a competitor in a scuffle and needs to set up an alibi. He plans to enlist girlfriend Connie Thatcher, whom he’d rescued from a crummy waitressing job a few months before. But she’s not home, so he’s forced to dodge the police on his own. Bruno finally winds up hiding on a fishing boat owned by Hamil Linder, a lonely widower from Norway. Hamil’s trouble-prone son Carl also works on the boat but only as a condition of court-ordered probation. While Bruno figures his next move, Connie gets a visit from Lt. Kelsey, a veteran police investigator looking to tie Bruno to the shooting.
Gann aims to build a classic adventure story around one of San Francisco’s most famous tourist attractions, Fisherman’s Wharf. He starts with crime and sex then adds colorful ancillary characters, arcane procedures for catching fish, and (best of all) the Pacific Ocean. As Herman Melville demonstrated years before, commercial fishing is not so exciting in itself. Ferocious Pacific storms, however, can inject the needed element of danger and uncertainty. Gann puts all this in place effectively, moving the story from place to place and having the characters explain things to themselves. Still the author aims for more. Bruno, Connie and Carl have strayed from the path of conventional morality. Yet they are not bad people. Gann wants to give them a chance for redemption. Fiddler’s Green is pretty much a guys’ book. Men today might still enjoy it.