Deeper waters

by Mary Morgan

Hardcover, 2002





New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2002.


Grieving over the death of his wife, attorney Noah Richards seeks refuge on an island near Seattle, only to find himself involved in the murder of a young Native American activist.

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Attorney Noah Richards has escaped to a beachfront rental on Edward’s Bay in Puget Sound – courtesy of his friend “Bigs” Harrison, a Seattle-area developer. A recent widower, Richards is escaping his last adventure that, unless one has read Mary Morgan’s Willful Neglect, the reader knows nothing about. Unfortunately, the author endlessly alludes to the story, dropping little hints throughout the book about a malpractice suit, a violent denouement in Noah’s family home, an injured nurse/lost love in Minneapolis, and an ongoing trial of one of the principal characters. The constant references to an earlier book -- references that added nothing to Deeper Waters’ plot or characters -- were annoying.

Fast forward to Deeper Waters – where Noah Richards quickly becomes embroiled in local politics involving old fishing treaties, and tension between the area’s Native Americans and other island residents -- and in the lives of a young neighbor, Sarah, and her infant son Christopher. Noah stumbles on a body, with bullet hole, of Native American activist and third-year law student, Jay Bishop, on the beach near Noah’s new home. The young man’s uncle, Wayne Daniels, asks Noah to look into the murder (which police seem to think was an accident) and find Jay’s research materials on the Quanda nation’s tribal rights lawsuit.

The investigation tests Noah’s relationship with his new law partner, Charlie Forsyth, a high-profile defense attorney and college chum. Charlie is going through a messy divorce and none too happy with Noah’s seeming preoccupation with non-lucrative legal issues -- the Quanda nation’s fishing rights, and a restraining order keeping Sarah from returning to her native New Zealand. Noah is also concerned about the health problems of Sarah’s baby, who winds up in the hospital with breathing problems several times, although doctors can find nothing wrong with him.

Although I found many things to like in Deeper Waters – great descriptions of people and places, an engaging plot – too many negatives interfered with my reading enjoyment. Although Noah Richards, the first-person narrator, professed to have no knowledge of medical terminology, he would occasionally come up with an anatomical term I’d have to look up – fontanelle, for one. Dialogue from Noah and Wayne Daniels included language I felt was unlikely to be spoken by a man. The story line about Noah’s relationship with Sarah and her son was a distraction. When the relationship between Sarah and Noah became sexual – I didn’t totally buy it – not between a straitlaced attorney in his 40s who knows better and a troubled – and married -- 20-something.

Review based on publisher- or author-provided review copy.
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