As a dive master, Catalina Rodrigues lives out her dream traveling on scuba trips around the world. To her, dive boats are home, and the beautiful waters teeming with life are dear to her heart. On a week-long scuba trip exploring the colder waters of the Sea of Cortez, Catalina meets Bertie Clark. The quirky but experienced diver is on a getaway with her husband, and the two women strike up an unexpected friendship. When a night dive goes horribly wrong, Catalina and Bertie deal with the aftermath in different ways, their bond keeping them together despite the distance. And once a new possibility of danger shows itself on land, the two women work to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.
THE WATER’S FINE is a story told in two parts: the first chronicling the dive trip up until the earth-shattering loss, and the second dealing with the aftermath. There’s a slow buildup to the event, but every page is used wisely, every scene setting the stage for what’s to come. The fact that readers already know something is going to happen—but they don’t know what—heightens the tension that seems to hover at the corners of this otherwise idyllic scuba diving trip.
Catalina and Bertie share narrating duties, the prose alternating between Catalina’s thoughts in first person and Bertie’s close third point of view. The two women have distinct personalities and voices, and once the novel separates them, the narrative choice helps to maintain their connection. It’s their enduring friendship that keeps the entire novel afloat. And it’s easy to care about each one of the characters introduced in Catalina’s dive group, which makes the incident that tears them apart rather heartbreaking.
Author Janice Coy writes with clear and concise prose, dropping in a sinister edge to the crystal blue waters, to the unknown that lurks in the deep but also in the human condition. The novel drags a bit in the middle—Catalina’s life on the dive boat is far more interesting than the life she tries to settle into on land until the plot gets moving again. Her struggle with PTSD that results in her distancing herself from what she loves most is given a realistic emotional arc. While Bertie’s reaction to the tragedy isn’t as consuming, her clear-headed, observational thinking gives balance to Catalina’s grief. There are places where events feel rushed, conversations sometimes glossed over when they would’ve provided more depth. But the scuba diving details are given full attention and are surprisingly immersive. Readers will feel like they’re a part of the excursion on the dive boat before everything spirals out of control. The mystery that bridges the two parts of the story together includes a stunning, yet satisfying twist that’s difficult to see coming.
THE WATER’S FINE centers the importance of friendship between women and grapples with the complicated nature of grief and Janice Coy builds a builds a suspenseful novel with a satisfying payoff.
~Jessica Thomas for IndieReader