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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
The Mermaid Broker by Sue Hinkin is a thriller and the fourth book in the Vega and Middleton series, preceded by Deadly Focus, Low Country Blood, and The Burn Patient, reading as a stand-alone like its predecessors. This installment begins with a marine biologist named Isabelle “Izzy” Abbott who wakes up strapped to a table next to a tortured and brutalized young woman named Celeste, both only five days away from the next round of rape at the hands of sadistic sexual predators looking for the thrill of a deadly underwater fetish. Unless Izzy is able to find a way out from depths far beyond her normal oceanic expeditions, there is no hope for the human-mermaid offering she is about to become. Meanwhile, journalist Beatrice “Bea” Middleton and photojournalist Lucy Vega follow the trail, each battling their own demons that continue to haunt them.
Sue Hinkin does a fantastic job of building a story and a chase between multiple point of view characters that seal a strong plot in The Mermaid Broker. The book dives right into the pit where Izzy is held and from there glides comfortably through the minds of Bea and Lucy, Izzy's sister Casey and, in an unexpected and mind-blowing twist, even an antagonist with a link that blew the whole thing out of the water for me, among others. It took me a little bit of time to connect with Izzy as her initial calm, however superficial, didn't feel authentic for a woman who was just told she'd be raped and murdered in a matter of days. However, as I got to know her this changed completely and in hindsight the introduction is perfect. I also enjoyed the ancillary cast, such as Wu and the deliciously villainous Cloris-Edna, as well as Izzy's transition into a role that takes the entire situation to a new level. At the heart of this plot though is a fast and firm thriller that begs to question Hinkin's artfully chilling dialogue, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” Very highly recommended.