by Micki Browning
In this breathtaking mystery debut, marine biologist–turned-divemaster Meredith Cavallo stands accused of a chilling crime after a dive gone wrong. But do the murky circumstances point to an accident, a murder, or a supernatural encounter?
Mer thought adjusting to a laid-back life in the Florida Keys would be a breeze. But when she rescues a floundering diver who claims to have seen a ghost, she’s caught in a storm of intrigue. News of the encounter explodes on social media, attracting a team of ghost hunters who want to capture proof that a greenish ghoul haunts Key Largo’s famed USS Spiegel Grove shipwreck.
Meredith knows the wreck inside and out, and agrees to act as their safety diver. When Ishmael, the charismatic leader of the group, vanishes during a midnight dive, everyone except Mer is convinced the ghost has claimed another victim. Topside, the tenacious detective in charge of the investigation finds Mer’s involvement in both incidents suspicious, and her enigmatic neighbor resurrects ghosts from her past.
Determined to find a rational explanation, Mer approaches Ishmael’s disappearance as any scientist would—by asking questions, gathering data, and deducing the truth. But the victim’s life is as shrouded in mystery as his disappearance. Still, something happened under the water and before long, she’s in over her head. When someone tries to kill her, she knows the truth is about to surface. Maybe dead men do tell tales.
Mer fought to keep the unconscious diver on the surface, and they bobbed in the water just beyond the back of the LunaSea. She’d get only one chance to get him on the boat without injury.
She imagined carrying him like a sleepy child, his arms draped over her shoulders. Only she had to grab the ladder, find her footing and wedge her leg between his, or the force of the rocking boat would slam them back into the ocean.
“Here it comes, Cavallo,” Leroy, the captain, said. “Get ready.”
Mer inhaled and felt the power of the water swell beneath her. As the wave ebbed, she swam toward the boat, planted her foot, and drew her arms in to pin the diver against the ladder. Another wave hit, raising the LunaSea’s stern into the air. Gravity pulled at Mer, doing its best to drag her back into the sea. She gripped the ladder. Her biceps strained until Leroy seized the diver under the armpits and hauled him onto the deck like a gaffed fish.
Before Mer could readjust, the swim step plummeted and hit the water with a teeth-jarring thud. She held tight as the boat righted itself, and then clambered up the ladder.
Emergency equipment littered the deck like flotsam. Mer dropped her gear on the bench.
Leroy leaned over the now conscious diver. His tense face made Mer’s pulse race.
The diver clawed at the oxygen mask on his face. “Tell her!”
Mer brushed the man’s hand aside and resettled the mask. “Tell me what?” she asked her captain.
“He says he was diving the Spiegel Grove shipwreck.”
“Impossible,” she said. “We’re five miles away, and the current’s going in the wrong direction.”
“That he was diving the Spiegel and there was a—” Leroy struggled to find the right word. “Presence.”
“A presence? You mean like a ghost? Please.” She pursed her lips.
He shook his head. “I know. Except just after you went in the Sea Dragon radioed they’re missing a diver off the Spiegel.” He nodded toward the diver. “This one.”
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Award-winning author Micki Browning worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades and is an FBI National Academy graduate. She retired as a division commander – wonderful fodder for her current career as a full-time writer.
Her mystery, Adrift, set in the Florida Keys, won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for best unpublished mystery and unpublished book of the year.
Micki resides in Southern Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment. She’s currently working on Beached, the second Mer Cavallo Mystery. Learn more at www.MickiBrowning.com