I wanted to review Deep Water in part because I wanted to warn readers about some of the content. This book contains references to human trafficking, a sexual assault on the page, and a dog in jeopardy.
The dog is okay, although it’s kind of vaguely addressed.
So I know based on Hollywood movies (The Island), other novels (like The Reckless Girls) and at least two Datelines that provided you say goodbye to your 9-5 and find yourself sailing to a remote tropical paradise inhabited by only a few other people, homicide is going to happen. I love thrillers set in wild, remote places so I was super excited for this one.
Virginie and her husband, Jake, have dreamed of going off grid. They’ve scraped and saved to buy a boat, The Wayfarer, and have made it all the way to Malaysia. Another vagabond tells them about Amarante, an island so perfect it’s truly paradise. Virginie and Jake inventory up on supplies and sail out to find that the remote island paradise is real. Also there are two other couples, plus a wizened old sailor and his dog. They have an agreement to help each other out–no one uses anyone else’s supplies and everyone works equally to fish, collect firewood and coconuts. Everyone must contribute equally. Even though everything starts off perfectly, The Wayfarer’s engine suffers a devastating break, and things turn dark on the island as tensions rise between the parties.
As I said, this book does contain some disturbing themes that won’t be for everyone. My issue with the book was that the pacing was terrible. Nearly half of the novel is just Virginie and Jake enjoying their time on the island–it’s more of a travel diary than a thriller. When sinister things begin to happen, usually stoic Jake begins acting erratically. At first I thought this was going to be the “thriller” aspect of the novel: a generally steady husband becomes unhinged while in a remote location. It felt a little off since Jake and Virginie had been traveling for awhile and his behavior was steady and consistent up until this point.
The result is I wasn’t certain what book I was reading–an aspirational travel novel, a home thriller, a survival story? The plot here needed to be tightened up and entire portions excised entirely to keep up the suspense.
So while I wasn’t disturbed by the content so much, the narrative was uneven. For the first half of the book there’s no real suspense, just a description of Jake and Virginie enjoying paradise. Then Jake starts to come unglued, then we suddenly head into very different territory. The result was an uneven, slightly jarring reading experience that was sometimes a little boring and sometimes rushed to the point of feeling like I had whiplash. Unless you absolutely love books approximately desert islands, this one is a pass.