Somewhere in the Shallow Sea: A Novel of Suspense
By Dennis Macaraeg
To save the life of his friend, a marine biologist must deliver the scientific compound he invented to kidnappers hiding deep within the jungles of the Philippines. Unexpectedly paired with his ex-lover for the mission, it’s a bit more than he signed up for.
Somewhere in the Shallow Sea promises mystery, action and suspense with its short, but definitive synopsis. Within it’s 228 pages we are delivered a kidnapping, a potentially deadly rescue mission, science, and possible love. That is a pretty big commitment that is sure to target a large audience.
The main character Danny, jets off to his now foreign but childhood home, the Philippines after learning the news that his scientific partner Blake has been kidnapped. He soon discovers that the kidnappers are requesting a ransom of 1 million dollars and the RX-18 compound. After slipping through airport security with the compound in tow, he is unexpectedly reunited with an old flame that has not exactly burned out, Blake’s cousin, Helen. She has arrived with the requested money in hand. Together they begin what is sure to be a terrifying and risky journey to save Blake’s life.
The plot is not without its share of adventure. There is definitely a scenario unfolding that can easily be conjured up into the visions of an action film one may watch without hesitation. Each scene is presented in a very detailed and picturesque manner that effortlessly places the reader in the center of the story line. There is great concern and empathy evoked in regards to Blake and a fun amount of intrigue surrounding the big question of why the RX-18 is being demanded. The compound can best be described as a sort of fish food compound being developed to help attract certain fish so they can be lured to a protective environments in order to set up safe habitats for more endangered species. While this is an important piece of work that Blake and Danny have worked on for years, why would this radical group makes demands for such an item that hardly anyone has knowledge of?
The appropriate elements have been set in place to create a suspenseful read that is not without a few surprises.
Our main character Danny is good-natured and easy to appreciate. He conjures up a certain amount of admiration with his unquestionable devotion to saving his partner and friend Blake. However, I struggled to find as much credibility as I was have liked within his actions. While he was clearly focused and driven, there seemed to be a lack of the necessary fear or full comprehension of just how dire the situation was. Did he understand Blake was in danger? Absolutely. Did he make statements to express concern of the dangers occurring? Of course. But it was the manner in which he proceeded and reacted to each event that felt less than realistic at various times.
Helen seemed to be the most understanding of the real danger, and I appreciated that. After all, how much suspense can the reader experience if the characters do not properly convey strong emotions of trepidation or distress?
I do want to mention that for such a short read, the author manages to provide a very thorough amount of depth for each character. I was pleased to see that the length of the book did not seem to prevent proper character building. I was slightly agitated with the way the romance between Danny and Helen began to rekindle. I felt like at several points, priorities were askew and again, the characters were drifting off course of the pertinent events, taking more away from the possible suspense that could have been further established.
Another slight disappointment for myself, was how little the villains were actually developed. They were present, but only for what felt like very brief intervals.
This is where Somewhere in the Shallow Sea really shined and pulled through for me. It is clear that the author has a personal connection to the world he has developed. His knowledge and past experiences while visiting the Philippines are present in each page, adding a great amount of credence to the settings and easily placing the reader within this world he has created. There is a touch of cultural exposure that is not to be undervalued, and I enjoyed the journey.
The author’s enthusiasm and passion for the story is present and palpable. He has the ability to present events in a clean and informative manner, but at times can be heavily detailed. He is invested in his characters and the story and also expresses a passion for travel and adventure through his words.
Somewhere in the Shallow Sea is a quick paced, straightforward and undemanding read. I would have liked to have seen more credibility within the actions of the characters. I felt that a few things were happening too fast, and that some behavior was unrealistic. Over all, with a bit more time I feel that this story could have really packed in some great suspense and action. I enjoyed the environment and glimpses into the Philippines and the culture. This is going to be an entertaining read for anyone seeking a touch of science, suspense and even romance without making a huge commitment.
*I want to thank the author for providing me with this lovely copy. This review is my own honest and unbiased opinion.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
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