Sloan McPherson spends a lot of her time diving, but not to enjoy the underwater sea life. As an auxiliary officer for the Lauderdale Shores Police Department, her job is to recover evidence that may help solve a crime. Sometimes she’s looking for a gun, other times she’s actually bringing to the surface a corpse. In Andrew Mayne’s The Girl Beneath the Sea, Sloan is not on official business when she surfaces and finds the body of a young woman. Soon she’s next on the killer’s hit list. Any hope that the police will come to her aid evaporates when Sloan’s connection to the dead woman, Stacey Miller, makes her a suspect. Battling for her own life, and that of her young daughter, Sloan must join forces with a former police detective she doesn’t trust and call on her relatives who have had trouble staying on the right side of the law.
I’m a bad swimmer and the thought of deep diving – without an oxygen tank and into tunnels, no less – leaves me gasping for breath. I also have visited Florida many times but am not an expert on the state’s many waterways. I say this upfront because many of the early reviews on Amazon took issue with Mayne’s facts on scuba diving as well as Florida’s geography. If you are willing to put aside your hat as fact-checker, then you will find Mayne’s first thriller to feature Sloan exciting enough to hope for a follow up.
You might be wishing, however, as I was, for more background information, not only on Sloan, but on the many other people in her life. She’s separated from her husband, Run, who spends a great deal of his time watching their daughter, Jackie. Although Sloan and Run seem to still care for each other a great deal, we get little information about what brought them together and what broke them apart. Run seems to come from a wealthy family and there’s evidence that his mother didn’t approve of Sloan who came from the wrong side of the canal.
We also learn that Sloan is studying for her PhD in archeology, but how does that fit in with what she’s doing? I’m hoping the next book will fill in some of the blanks.
We do learn more about Sloan’s father, who was instrumental in teaching his daughter about diving. In his early days, he took his daughter and son trolling the waterways looking for sunken ships and buried treasure. As a young girl, Sloan enjoyed these adventures, but as she matured, having a father who was a modern day pirate took its toll. Adding to Sloan’s family shame was Uncle Karl, who was arrested and convicted for helping smuggle cocaine into the country. The police detective who helped nab Karl, George Solar, has retired. But he reappears and inserts himself into the investigation to find Stacey’s killer.
Sloan is initially suspicious of Solar’s motives – he was forced to resign under a cloud – but she learns he was working undercover and took the hit willingly to bring down some bad guys. Solar suspects that Stacey’s death is just the first of many since the cartel is involved. Neither Solar nor Sloan can go to the police, because informants working for an agent called the DIA are corrupt. Everyone is after a huge sum of money that has been hidden in an underwater submarine dubbed the Kraken. Sloan’s father needs little encouragement to join the hunt for such a large treasure.
There are some breathtaking – seriously – moments when the trio attempts to recover the money. I’m not sure how long an individual can hold their breathe underwater, but Sloan certainly hits the limit. By the end, the reader will most likely be willing to forgive Mayne for any gaps in the plot or character back stories. The good news is that Sloan and Solar seem ready to team up for another outing. We’ll be ready to dive in.
The Girl Beneath the Sea