MYSTERY

Under the Water

AmazonCrossing. Oct. 2019. 314p. ISBN 9781542042062. pap. $14.95. SUSPENSE
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Frank and Grace are in a loving if somewhat stagnant marriage with two children and a seemingly idyllic life. In truth, the family has had a string of “bad luck” and decided to pull up stakes and move from Seattle to Boston. Frank resolves to make this pilgrimage an event. Envisaging open roads, blue skies, and family bonding, he purchases a high-end RV for the cross-country trip. But the family’s escape from bad times is ill-fated, as the adventure quickly descends into a waking nightmare when the group becomes stranded in a forest miles away from civilization. Each chapter unfolds more deceit and horror, as the narrative moves back in time to show how exactly this catastrophe came to be. Pen (The Light of the Fireflies) has a deft touch in building the mounting tension as the mendacity of main character Frank is slowly revealed. However, the story ultimately falls into parody territory with over-the-top scenarios and stilted dialog.
VERDICT This twisted tale of infidelity and revenge demonstrates how fragile family life can be. An optional purchase best for fans of racy suspense novels.

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