Kensington Publishing Corp., $25.00, 309 pages, ISBN 978-1-4697-0968-4
The MBR is ever on the lookout for debut authors with arresting characters, compelling plots and above-average wordsmithing talent. When we find one, we do our best to alert all of you, so that together, we can read and enjoy the writer and character as they grow. Those types of people are hard to find, and when we do, it’s cause to celebrate . . . so put your party hat on, turn the TV off and fire-up the La-Z-Boy. It’s time to read.
Under Water, by Casey Barrett, is a great summer read. It’s a dynamic first novel featuring a wise-cracking, tough and young, ex-competitive swimmer who was destined for Olympics Gold. Then, his father disgraced the family by committing financial fraud and going to prison. In a riches-to-rags story, his son Lawrence known as “Duck” Darley—destitute now—begins drinking, dealing drugs and quits the team, then watches as one of his teammates goes on to win four Olympic gold medals. Duck, meanwhile, goes on, to deal a little dope that somehow became a lot of dope when I wasn’t looking. At age twenty, Duck gets busted with a couple of pounds of weed and goes away for a couple years for possession with intent to distribute. Once he gets paroled, he becomes a high-functioning alcoholic and pill-popper, who makes his living by finding things. He’s not a PI. That’s passé. Instead, sort of like a superhero for hire, he’ll find out if your spouse is cheating, for example, with whom, where and how . . . and take pictures. Now, more than a decade later, the mother of his old teammate contacts Duck to hire him to find her missing daughter, Madeline. She’s eighteen, rich, a talented swimmer . . . and self-destructive. She’s been missing for a week and Duck thinks it’s just another case of a spoiled, bratty runaway. Then her roommate turns up savagely murdered and Maddie, as she’s known, becomes the primary suspect in the media. The search soon turns deadly. Duck is attacked and nearly beaten to death as the case sucks him ever-deeper into the morass of Olympic swimming, where lies and violence lie just below the surface, and every one of the competitors will do whatever it takes to gain the edge. Duck didn’t win any medals, but he’ll win you over with his actions and flat-out bad-assivness. He’s a winner!