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Clearer Waters
AJ Stewart, author
Police Diver Samantha Waters embraces the frigid water off the British coast, but when a high-stakes rescue results in disciplinary action, Sam finds herself restricted to shore duty with too much time on her hands. That is until her mother suggests she take a break and visit the uncle she hasn’t seen since childhood. In Florida. Sam finds herself on a sleepy gulf island that is different from her home on the Isle of Wight in so many ways. For starters, it’s sunny and it’s hot—and that’s winter. But there’s also something comfortingly familiar about island people . . . When Sam goes out for a moonlit paddle she finds more than tranquility and lands in the middle of a murder investigation. To hunt down the killer, Sam teams up with the local sheriff’s detective, Dusty. Dusty would rather work the case alone, but Sam won’t let things go and the list of suspects with motive and opportunity grows longer with each new twist and turn. In these murky currents, Sam fights to keep her head above water until the mystery becomes crystal clear.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 8.25 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: Clearer Waters offers a well-conceived plot. A police officer is unfairly accused of insubordination in England and visits her uncle in Florida until the hearing. While she's there, she discovers a mystery that she works with the local police to unravel. The narrative is carefully constructed and makes for a gratifying procedural mystery.

Prose: The prose is highly readable, vivid, and effectively paced, with tension upheld from the first to the final page.

Originality: The storyline deals with many familiar elements - sexual harassment and the old boys club, funerary artifacts found on a dig, and blackmail - but the story has an original tone and endearing characters. The banter between the American cop and Sam (from the UK) is especially funny and refreshing. 

Character/ExecutionClearer Waters provides a fine blend of strong characterization, alluring mystery, and flair. Fans of Agatha Christie classics will find much to enjoy.

Date Submitted: August 18, 2022

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