A shady, but entertaining, bunch of characters

January/February 2022

“Can’t Sail in Jail: A Novel”
by Greg Gilmartin

Reviewed by J. Albert Mann

An obvious truth, perhaps, but a truth nonetheless. You can’t sail in jail, which is unfortunately where most of Gilmartin’s characters belong. We are introduced to this tale’s docket of eccentrics, along with their stories, through our reliably unreliable narrator, Big Mo. He recounts their deeds through multiple points of view, giving the novel a hectic, breathless tone which perfectly matches the storyline of fast sailing and hard-partying.

Meet our captain, Billy, who just wants to win every sailing race he enters. He’s used to winning. Because he always does. Randomly (and every good story has them), we have Shkodran Encheleis and Mirilind Pasha Bushati, a.k.a. Mike Kansas and Karl Belmont of the QuiKee Gs gas station. Having recently emigrated from Albania, these two men are looking to make money the old-fashioned way–legally. But enter Dr. Z, a drug-smuggling tycoon, Delroy “Dock” Lawrence, a Jamaican ganja king, and Molly Fitzgerald, an Assistant DA, and head of New England’s Organized Crime Drug Unit to blow that plan sky high. Even our intrepid narrator is pulled (happily, I might add) into the mess.

Besides being a novelist who has brought to life a cast of characters (with names like Darts and Tank) who are at once charming but also completely offensive, Gilmartin counts himself a poet. Whether he be or not, I’ll let readers decide. He is, however, a fearless storyteller.

“Truth or lies, it’s an amazing story.
Pushing the limits in the search for glory.
Just remember, my friends, it’s okay to fail.
But the final truth is – you can’t sail in jail!

Greg Gilmartin


J. Albert Mann is a disability activist, an award-winning poet, and the author of eight published novels for children. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults.