cover image Under Water

Under Water

Casey Barrett. Kensington, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4967-0968-4

Olympic swimmer Barrett dives into the disturbing side of competitive sport in his savage thriller debut, a series launch. Once an Olympic-class swimmer, Lawrence “Duck” Darley took to drink and spent time in prison. Now an unlicensed PI specializing in uncovering the infidelities of the rich, Duck contracts with wealthy New Yorker Margaret McKay, the widowed mother of an old swimming buddy of his, to quietly find her troubled 18-year-old daughter, Madeline. A promising swimmer, Madeline texted her mother “I’m so sorry” a few days earlier, then disappeared, last seen by her brother at the family’s country house in Rhinebeck. Duck’s part-time partner in detection, dominatrix Cass Kimball, brings competence, toughness, and sex industry connections to the search for the missing Madeline. Barrett relies on familiar genre tropes—illicit affairs, drug deals, blackmail, and the Russian mafia—but dials them up for high shock value. The expected if still satisfying ending leaves Darley so broken that it’s hard to imagine how he’ll be enticed into the next investigation. Agent: Alec Shane, Writers House. (Dec.)