Book review: Jacksonville author Charles Martin is back with “The Water Keeper,” about an adventure down the Intracoastal Waterway.
THE WATER KEEPER
Author: Charles Martin
Thomas Nelson, 339 pages, $26.99
It’s an incredibly detailed story of a trip down the Intracoastal Waterway on the Atlantic coast of Florida on a small boat. It’s a thriller about a hero who risks life and limb fighting human trafficking. It’s a story of a mega-selling author who uses his wealth for good. It’s a love story, one of lost and found. It’s a story of friendship, faith and family. It’s a story about an incredible dog. It’s Charles Martin at his best.
“I noticed something swimming in the water. Something not a fish. I pulled alongside a Labrador retriever making his way downriver…He wasn’t trying to make it to shore. He was trying to catch a boat long since gone… I lifted him from the water and set him inside the boat, where he didn’t even take the time to shake. Finding himself no longer swimming, he immediately ran to the bow and stood sentinel-like, looking and listening… .”
The best-selling Jacksonville author celebrates 20 years and 15 best-sellers with “The Water Keeper.” The adventure opens with the protagonist on a small island off North Florida’s Fort George Island. Murphy Shepherd heads south on his 24-ft Boston Whaler on a mission to scatter the ashes of his friend and compatriot in the gin-clear, warm waters off Key West. After picking up a swimming dog on a mission of his own, he rescues a mother searching for her daughter south of St. Augustine. In Daytona, a dying ex-con joins the crew, which is soon rounded out by a young girl looking for answers.
This waterway travelogue morphs into a wham-bang adventure that ends in a gun battle in the Dry Tortugas and a bloody fight in the streets of Key West as Murph reveals his true calling when he successfully takes on an evil modern-day sex-trafficking ring.
“Yachts that size were a statement. In my experience, the wealthy invested in homes, but they bought yachts to draw attention. To showcase their power. Something akin to artwork hung on water. And whereas most boat owners wanted everyone to know who they were and how cunningly they’d imagined the name of their vessel, the name of this boat was covered, shrouded in darkness.
That meant people got on, but not everyone got off.
And that was bad.”
Martin has crafted another winner, although fans will find it a bit different. It ends in a cliff-hanger, with our hero heading out on another mission. Although not stated, let’s hope the author has begun a series.
Can’t wait. I hope he includes the dog.
Tim O’Connell lives in Ponte Vedra near the Intracoastal.