A university professor hunts for her marine biologist mother’s enigmatic research, which dangerous individuals also want, in this series opener.
Professor Riley Rawlings’ late-night voicemail from her mother, Claudia, is obscure: “Don’t let them get my research.” Riley soon learns that the research vessel, on which Claudia was lead scientist, has sunk. The Coast Guard finds 16 passengers dead, but as Claudia is not among them, Riley initially believes her mother is still alive. Riley quickly offers her help to Hunters & Seekers, the salvage and investigation company the San Diego Police Department has contracted for assistance. Not only is she an experienced diver, but she’ll also be able to decipher any possible evidence her mother has left behind regarding her location or research. Riley doesn’t know any specifics about the research, but she’s able to follow a string of clues from Claudia, much like a scavenger hunt. Riley, along with Hunters & Seekers’ Dagger Eastin, Kaleb LaSalle, and Stone Garrison, all former SEALs, searches with caution, as it’s apparent that the sunken ship was no accident. Indeed, someone wants Claudia’s work, and a mysterious man is shadowing the group, hoping Riley will lead him to the research and seemingly waiting for his chance to strike. Jaytanie’s (Love, Take Two Collection, 2017, etc.) concise writing begets a swift narrative with no extraneous characters. For example, a woman from Dagger’s past is a dual threat—to Riley’s life as well as her blossoming relationship with the ex-SEAL. Riley, whom Dagger rightly dubs “fearless,” holds her own with her male comrades, and it’s gratifying to watch her decode Claudia’s cryptic clues. Unfortunately, the entertaining scavenger hunt ends a bit too soon, prior to the novel’s halfway point. But other mysteries ensue, including Claudia’s whereabouts, Dagger’s connection to the woman from his past, and the identity of the villainous mastermind. Although gradual details of the baddies’ plot become increasingly convoluted, the ultimate reveal is comprehensible and the story’s resolution is thorough.
A sprightly plotted thriller and dynamic characters should leave readers eager for the sequel.