Sea Castle: A Thriller (Underwater Investigation Unit)
“If you’re looking for good beach reading to pass the time during spring break or your summer getaway, Sea Castle will definitely do the trick. It’s a fine addition to a very entertaining series.”
The body of a young woman is discovered on the shore of a Fort Lauderdale beach, and Sloan McPherson of the Underwater Investigation Unit immediately suspects murder.
Responding detectives from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office are not so certain, but Sloan refuses to let the matter drop. Temporarily assigned to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement with the UIU currently in bureaucratic limbo, Sloan reaches out for help.
Gwen Wylder is a Miami homicide detective relegated to a desk in a basement office due to a gnarly personality, an arrogant sense of superiority, and an obsession with what she believes is a series of murders committed by the same individual. Does Sloan’s case fit into Wylder’s? Can they work together to uncover the truth before another young woman falls victim to a deadly serial killer?
Sea Castle is the fourth novel in Andrew Mayne’s series featuring the Underwater Investigation Unit, following up on the action in The Girl Beneath the Sea (2020), Black Coral (2021), and Sea Storm (2022). His novel Black Fall (2017), the most recent in his Jessica Blackwood series, was a finalist for the Edgar Award.
It hardly ends there, however. Mayne is also a television personality and an accomplished magician who has performed extensively and published prolifically on the subject.
The question arises, however, whether his skills in sleight of hand can also transform an unlikely pairing of Sloan McPherson and the unrepentant curmudgeon Wylder into a thriller worth spending time on. The reveal, fortunately, turns out in favor of his readers.
Although the story begins unevenly as Sloan bickers with other detectives, and the various police services juggle questions of jurisdiction and levels of interest, or lack of same, Mayne soon gets things on track and the plot begins to pick up momentum.
Wylder’s incendiary outbursts are rather hard to take at first, but once she and Sloan begin to mesh, the author tones down the craziness a bit and the pursuit of answers moves out onto center stage, as it should.
Sloan is a good protagonist, calm and steady, and her perseverance wins points from readers, especially those familiar with her from previous novels. Her family ties are engaging and endearing, and she’s a character readers want to see succeed.
Gwen Wylder, who bears a resemblance to Sigourney Weaver, according to the narrator, begins as an overwritten clone of a pissed-off Ellen Ripley (“did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?”) but eventually develops into a secondary character with enough potential for us to want to see more of her in the future.
Overall, Mayne does a very good job of maintaining his pace once he clears the preliminary hurdles, and the story is very easy to read.
If you’re looking for good beach reading to pass the time during spring break or your summer getaway, Sea Castle will definitely do the trick. It’s a fine addition to a very entertaining series.