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Reviewed by Francis Mont for Readers' Favorite
Flotsam by Tracy Grogan is a murder-mystery novel about a young diver guide, Ricki Yamamoto, whose fun but peaceful life is suddenly disrupted by events that push her ability to cope close to breaking point. She is a dive guide on a Micronesia Pacific archipelago, Palau, frequented by tourists eager to see the lush underwater world of its pristine waters, and need the guidance of an experienced diver. While Ricki is diving solo on one of her free days, she is shocked to see two bodies dumped into the water, practically over her head from 100 feet above. From that moment on, the story careens at breakneck speed from deep-water diving to a highspeed boat chase to a desperate fight for her life as she is escaping the killers intent on silencing her before she can lead the police and the FBI to them. The novel is written in the first-person point of view of the protagonist, pulling the reader into Ricki’s mind as she tries to think her way out of her predicament.
Beyond being an exciting murder mystery, Tracy Grogan’s Flotsam is an extremely well-written novel that reminded me of my favorite authors of the genre: Alistair Maclean and Raymond Chandler. The plot is ingenious and flows logically from the premises, the style is witty and literate, but it was Ricki’s character that I found most captivating with its mixture of tough competence and soft vulnerability. What I found particularly endearing is her strong moral core that did not shy away from doing what she considered to be right, despite the very real dangers. On top of all this, the novel is a goldmine of information about the sport and business of diving and underwater salvage operations, the varied aquatic lifeforms plus the history, the politics, and the economy of this Micronesian paradise. The author’s expert knowledge of both the local background as well as the technical details of the diving business shines through every page and that makes reading Flotsam by Tracy Grogan a convincing and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Highly recommended.