Books: Risk in the Hebrides

HARPOON VENTURE (304 pp.)—Gavin Maxwell—Viking ($4.75).

In a Hebrides bar, a grizzled trout fisherman turned to a young fellow in an old sweater and asked: "Any luck?"

"Yes ... I got four, two large and two small."

"What did your biggest weigh?"

"I think he'd be about six thousand pounds."

The old fisherman was not having his leg pulled, as he huffily assumed. Gavin Maxwell, the young man in the sweater, was not a fisher of trout but of basking sharks—creatures "as large as a London bus," that roam the bays and lochs of western Scotland. Harpoon Venture, Maxwell's account of four years of shark-shooting, is...

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