This is the interesting story of an American woman ( a rather good looking one too) working aboard a Russian fishing vessel collecting the catch of Russian and American trawlers operating in American waters off Alaska. Russian trawlers and collection ships were allowed to trawl for fish in this area provided they had aboard a US inspector to verify the extent of the catch picked up
by the collection ship from each trawler and to attest that they observed the various environmental rules. Mz Oakeley was such an observer. Actually their record of catch weight was not very accurate. They estimated the weight of a catch by making an eyeball estimate of the percent of full that the trawl net was when hauled aboard the collection ship. But the trawler captains were not complaining so why should I. Mz Oakeley was fluent in Russian--except when she got excited.
I personally think that she was a US spy. Why? Well for one thing she had a bachelor's degree in engineering from some college on the west coast--Cal Tech I think--and it is difficult to picture a graduate engineer just starting in the business to be fluent in Russian and at the same time willing to waste two summers up in Alaskan waters counting fish. The Russian ship Captains thought she was a US spy and said so but she denied it as all good spies should. She was knowledgeable enough to recognize precision direction finding antennas on one Russian trawler and I doubt that she got that expertise in college. Incidentally I googled her and learned that she went back to college and got an advanced degree after the fishing episode and is now teaching on the West Coast at a university. I actually hope that she WAS a spy and that she learned all about what the Russians were doing when they were supposed to be catching fish.
This book was not a masterpiece but I enjoyed reading it. Vodka flowed like water on those Russian ships.
Made me think of the Martin Cruz Smith novel in the Arkady Renko series, Polar Star. One of the characters is an american observer, a woman who is indeed a spy. But then again the processing boat was loaded with Russian spies too.