Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Out of Her Depth, by Brenda Hiatt

Bell Bridge Books, ISBN 9781611943712, March 2013

Newly divorced Wynne Seally heads off to Aruba on vacation, taking advantage of the already paid-for trip she booked for her wedding anniversary, the day she discovered her husband was involved with another woman. "No Fear" is her new motto, and she embraces it by going ahead with the scuba lessons she had planned to take with her husband.

But on her first real dive, exploring a sunken ship that's a popular tourist attraction, she finds an expensive wedding ring and braves a moray eel to pick it up. It's engraved with two names and a date, and it's a Cartier piece.

The island's Cartier shop recognizes it and says they'll have the owner contact her. Fellow diver Ronan Gale tells her the names suggest it may be connected to a major murder case.

And then someone ransacks Wynne's hotel room. There's an attempt to lure her to a meeting out of the public eye. She gets a phone call from a famous gangster.

Suddenly her commitment to "No Fear" is being tested in alarming ways.

Wynne is a really likable character, a woman gradually realizing her own strength and independence now that she's broken free of her husband of twenty-five years. Her basic decency shines through without any false, goody-two-shoes notes. Her relationships with her grown daughters, who need their own little push toward independence,  and with her mother, who thinks independence isn't nearly as good as reconciling with that cheating but prosperous husband, feel very real.

It's not a perfect book. The mystery is fairly well done, but about halfway through I asked a question that seemed obvious to me, but clearly wasn't to the characters, and my suspicious later proved correct. It is nevertheless a fun and satisfying story of a woman coming into her own, and reaching out for new adventure and new romance after a painful divorce.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.