Thursday, January 07, 2021

The Girl Beneath the Sea by Andrew Mayne

 

First Line: Something else is in the water.

Sloan McPherson comes from a long line of Florida treasure hunters and drug smugglers, but she's working hard to forge her own path out of her family's shadow for herself and for her daughter. Working on her doctorate in archaeology, Sloan is a police diver for the Lauderdale Shores Police Department.
 
When Sloan finds the body of a woman floating in a canal-- a woman Sloan knew as a girl-- all eyes are on Sloan. The police, the DEA, the FBI, all of law enforcement wonders if she's the prime suspect, and they start following every move she makes. As a result, she finds herself teamed with the one person she hates: a DEA agent who put her uncle behind bars. Together, the two are going to have to outsmart a ruthless cartel searching for a lost fortune.
 
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I was introduced to Andrew Mayne's writing by his first Dr. Theo Cray mystery, The Naturalist, and when I learned that this mystery was the first in a new series about a woman police diver, I knew I had to give it a try. At the end of The Girl Beneath the Sea, I had mixed emotions... but I'm game to read the next book in the series (Black Coral, released in February 2021).
 
Mayne certainly knows how to tell a riveting story, even though the plot seems to be a bit far-fetched at times, and he also knows how to create a main character with a distinctive voice. The youngest child and only girl of the McPherson family, Sloan is a self-professed "alpha wolf," and it's true that her brothers do not make appearances in this book. Her shady family background in treasure hunting and drug smuggling has made her believe that she's always got to prove herself to everyone, and it's this that I had the most problems with. As an alpha wolf, she thinks nothing of putting herself in extremely dangerous situations with no backup, and I found her occasional TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) moments exasperating, especially since she's a single mother. If the story hadn't been so compelling, I would have stopped reading for this reason alone. I can't stand women who are TSTL.
 
However, as I said, Mayne knows how to tell a compelling story, and there are two things I really liked about The Girl Beneath the Sea: (1) teaming Sloan with DEA agent George Solar, a man she hates for putting her beloved uncle behind bars, and (2) the underwater scenes. Mayne is a diver himself, and he brings the underwater sequences to life. There's a lot of fascinating information about diving and the underwater world to be learned here, and he really had me squirming whenever Sloan was diving in those murky Florida canals. (I love the water, but I want to be able to see what's in the water with me if you know what I mean.) Teaming Sloan with George Solar puts a cap on those hare-brained solo stunts of hers and makes her grow up emotionally.
 
Even though the plot seemed a bit unbelievable from time to time, and even though I wanted to shake some sense into Sloan whenever she decided to dive in and save the day all by her lonesome, I do want to read the next book in the series. If Sloan continues her ill-advised ways in the second book, that's when I'll call it quits.

The Girl Beneath the Sea by Andrew Mayne
eISBN: 9781542009577
Thomas & Mercer © 2020
eBook, 328 pages

Thriller,  #1 Underwater Investigation Unit
Rating: C+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

13 comments:

  1. If I'm being completely honest, Cathy, I don't think this is my sort of book. I get very tired of the TSTL main character, too. And even though a little setting aside of disbelief is OK, I like things to ring true - to feel authentic. Not sure I'd feel that way about this. Still, if the storyline is good, that's something.

    On another note, I notice you're reading Kwei Quartey. I hope you're really enjoying it. I like his work a lot.

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    1. There's a bit of jumping back and forth between various time frames that I'm finding a bit annoying, but otherwise I am enjoying the book. I've been a Quartey fan since his first book.

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  2. I'm with Margot - love Kwei Quartey, and looking forward to your review of this one. I really don't think this Andrew Mayne book is for me.
    Ev

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  3. I like the sound of this one. The premise and setting sound intriguing.

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    1. I'm interested in seeing what he does in the second book in this series.

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  4. I've been waffling over whether to add this book to my to-read list. Your review covered many of the pros and cons I expected, but led me to decide that I need to at least try it for myself. The diving details sound particularly interesting, since that's an activity I'd like to try someday (though, like you, I'm not living near any large bodies of water!).

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    1. Well, I do have a large "cement pond" in the backyard... ;-)

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  5. Diving sounds interesting and a bit different from the usual settings. But women characters, especially who are employed by the police, and run off to do dangerous things alone without thinking, do drive me nuts. Women civilians who do that are bad enough, but police employees should know better.
    And why is this plot device used with women so often, especially by male writers (occasionally by a woman writer), when male characters are rarely in these situations. It reinforces the stereotype of naive, unthinking women detectives, public or private. Women's crime fiction writers should object.

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    1. I can think of one series where a man repeatedly runs into danger without heeding the warnings of his partner, and if he continues to do so, I'm going to stop reading the series. I don't like TSTL folks of either sex.

      I suppose writers who use this plot device may be trying to say that the character is thinking more with his/her heart than his/her head. I don't know. I can excuse the behavior of the character weighs the pros and cons before running into danger.

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  6. Sometimes the character doesn't think before running or driving into danger, like in a book we both read recently. And in my experience, it's usually a woman character.

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