Talk about good literary genes. Thomas Steinbeck is the son of John, and it shows in this fine debut, a collection of short stories set on the Monterey Peninsula in the early 1900s. Steinbeck isn't afraid of writing long narratives, and two of the book's most memorable tales demonstrate his ability to construct a solid, extended plot. In "Blind Luck," a sailor endures the challenges of his first voyage, overcoming a terrible accident and going on to become a captain his lifelong dream. "Sing Fat and the Imperial Duchess of Woo" is a moving novella about a Chinese student who falls in love with a woman while training with an elderly apothecary. Nature is a recurring character in many of the narratives, including "The Night Guide," which tells the unforgettable story of a boy who uses his ability as a woodsman to rescue his mother during a storm. Each of these stories proves the author has plenty of talent in his own right. A reading group guide is included in the book.

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