Fiction - Mystery - Murder
386 Pages
Reviewed on 12/09/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Francis Mont for Readers' Favorite

Flotsam by Tracy Grogan is a murder-mystery novel about a young diver guide, Ricki Yamamoto, whose fun but peaceful life is suddenly disrupted by events that push her ability to cope close to breaking point. She is a dive guide on a Micronesia Pacific archipelago, Palau, frequented by tourists eager to see the lush underwater world of its pristine waters, and need the guidance of an experienced diver. While Ricki is diving solo on one of her free days, she is shocked to see two bodies dumped into the water, practically over her head from 100 feet above. From that moment on, the story careens at breakneck speed from deep-water diving to a highspeed boat chase to a desperate fight for her life as she is escaping the killers intent on silencing her before she can lead the police and the FBI to them. The novel is written in the first-person point of view of the protagonist, pulling the reader into Ricki’s mind as she tries to think her way out of her predicament.

Beyond being an exciting murder mystery, Tracy Grogan’s Flotsam is an extremely well-written novel that reminded me of my favorite authors of the genre: Alistair Maclean and Raymond Chandler. The plot is ingenious and flows logically from the premises, the style is witty and literate, but it was Ricki’s character that I found most captivating with its mixture of tough competence and soft vulnerability. What I found particularly endearing is her strong moral core that did not shy away from doing what she considered to be right, despite the very real dangers. On top of all this, the novel is a goldmine of information about the sport and business of diving and underwater salvage operations, the varied aquatic lifeforms plus the history, the politics, and the economy of this Micronesian paradise. The author’s expert knowledge of both the local background as well as the technical details of the diving business shines through every page and that makes reading Flotsam by Tracy Grogan a convincing and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Highly recommended.

Natalie Soine

Flotsam by Tracy Grogan tells the story of Ricky Yamamoto, a scuba diving guide who works at Palau Oceanic Scuba headquarters and dive shop on the island of Ngerkebesang. Although Sarah, Dmitri, Roland, and Ryan were the owners, nobody had any illusions about who actually ran the show. Ricky discovers two men that were killed and left in the ocean depths at Ricky’s secret “Rocking Spot”, Northwest Coast of Babeldaob Island. She immediately reports this to the Koror Police Station, but Ricky had a reputation with the local police for being a troublemaker. Officer Idechong and Sergeant MacArthur Uchel are assigned to the case but when divers go to search for the bodies, they have disappeared. Ricky returns for a deep dive to find the victims who turn out to be Masaru Ishikawa, a ruthless sociopath and member of the Yakuza, Japan’s mafia, and his associate Riku Koga. As a result, Special Agent Ben Perez from the FBI Criminal Investigation Division joins the investigation. Crime and Weather Reporter Stephaliza Rengulbai reports the story and releases details about Ricky, putting Ricky’s life in danger. Ricky’s long-time friend and running mate Ruluked Reklai as well as one of her bosses, Ryan, come to her rescue but Ricky soon discovers that someone close has betrayed her.

Flotsam is a well-written, thrilling, and extremely suspenseful story. Tracy Grogan does a fantastic job of capturing the experience of diving, from the surrounding fish, coral and water to the feelings and emotions of the diver. The location in Palau is so well described that the reader can easily form a mental picture of the area and various scenes. The variety of characters are all well described with their own personalities, qualities and quirks. The main character, Ricky, is full of surprises, determined and unique. She swiftly deals with any challenge that is thrown her way with a stubborn streak and survivor instincts, although she is known as "The poster child for chaos". I especially enjoyed her exceptional sense of humor. Flotsam is all round a great novel, highly recommended to everyone who is looking for a page-turner filled with action, thrills and spills.