In this debut thriller, two singles vacationing in paradise find love and sunken treasure, but the treasure belongs to a drug cartel that wants it back.
Luck seems to be on the side of Bill and Vicky. After meeting on Isla La Madre, the blossoming of their romance is followed by the discovery, while snorkeling, of a cigarette boat and close to $60 million—not to mention bullet holes and skeletal remains. The two take the money and try their best to hide evidence of the shipwreck, but that doesn’t stop the Miami Mafia from realizing that a rather sizable payment is now missing. They send their man to recover the funds and take care of any related problems. Howell sets up his story remarkably well, wasting no time in getting Bill and Vicky together and proficiently establishing their new relationship without dawdling. They snorkel, make love and even have an awkward moment when Vicky breaks the ice by implying that Bill’s an alcoholic—all within the first 50 pages. But it’s their shrewd response to finding bundles of cash at the bottom of the sea that makes them appealing. They consider every option—destroying the money or turning it in to the police, for instance—and they’re cautious even without knowing if they’re in danger. It’s clear to readers, however, that a menace is lurking: Mob man Rizzo enlists Eddy, who’s not above murdering someone to cover his own tracks. The baddies get close enough to the lovers to ramp up suspense, which leads to a rousing car chase and the introduction of a police presence, mostly in the form of Officer Tony Sanchez. His scenes are less engaging, since readers are a few steps ahead of his investigation, but his refusal to let a murder case go cold is laudable. Numerous ships and scenes at sea lead to amusing nautical metaphors—Vicky notes that she and Bill, both with the money, are “on the same boat”—and even water-laden threats, like Rizzo suggesting that Eddy “plug some dike” with an unlucky man.
Pithy writing, an unswerving plot and witty characters give this thriller a notable gleam.