A christian, gritty, murder mystery novel, with quaint characters and tangible dread.
Something is wrong with Cooper. He’s plagued by a fear he doesn’t understand and can’t control. Cooper just wants to escape, and a summer vacation aboard the restored cabin cruiser, The Getaway, with best friends Gordy, Hiro, and Lunk seems like the perfect way to do it. Two weeks of fun—with no mysteries or life-and-death danger. That’s the plan.
But their plans are shattered the very first night when they witness a murder. Or did they? Despite their intentions of leaving the investigation to the police, narrow misses and creepy encounters lure them in. Is there really a body floating in the underwater currents of the lake? The closer they get to the truth, the deeper into danger they get. Too late they see the trap. Now each of them must face their own buried fears . . . just below the surface
I give it an 8.6 out of 10, and an age range of 11+ because it is a murder mystery after all.
One of the trademarks of a 'Code of Silence' novel, is an explosive, abrupt beginning, and 'Below The Surface' does not disappoint. The hooker pounces on you and charges the plot with suspense.
Another trademark of these books is an extreme sense of reality. Everything feels so plausibly real, and it's refreshing. But it also works against the story, with some portions feeling lengthy and boring, and some chapters feeling altogether useless in advancing the plot. This is where the book became dull to read, but was worth wading through.
I think, that the most real part of the book, was the characters. Their personalities were not particularly unique, but well developed. Sometimes the characters' stubbornness to listen to their friend irked me, and it became annoying to have two characters who would not accept what was right in front of them, for most of the book. But their witty banter, and tightly bonded relationship was entertaining to read in a timeless way.
Okay now I come to Cooper's fear attacks... It was an interesting conflict to read, and the arc was okay, it just didn't blow me away. What was amazing though, was the climax, and how the only way Cooper could beat the fear, was through God. No allegories. Bringing Christianity into novels, can be hard, but this book handled it perfectly. All the messaging was biblical and not preached at the reader. Certain characters constantly prayed, and it wasn't in an awkward way, it fit perfectly.
The suspense near the beginning, and the second half of the book, was incredible. The author did a great job of making the dread was ever-present. Surprisingly, when I look back, there are few action scenes, and more just scenes that were so exciting that they seemed like action.
Up until the second to last chapter, it was manifestly tense, and I loved it. I ended the book, with a smile on my face, glad that I read it. 'Below The Surface' is not a masterpiece, but it's a great thriller, and a fun read.