Undercurrents by Pamela Beason, third in the Summer Westin mystery series.
Summer or "Sam" is a wildlife biologist and freelance writer, hired to write reports for an online publication, Out There, during a week-long trip to the Galapagos Islands, a World Heritage Center off the coast of Ecuador.
Sam is to do her reporting as two different personas, an underwater diver to trail Dr. Daniel Kazaki, the biologist doing a marine life survey, and as hiker Wildlife Westin, a reporter giving readers a view of the islands themselves.
"So, a post every day about the islands by Wilderness Westin, expert hiker and kayaker," Wyatt prompted.Daniel hires a senior park naturalist, an Ecuadorian named Eduardo Duarte, to take them out on a small boat or panga every day. And they are guests on a small cruise ship that will be their home base in between dives.
"And another by a new character that we'll create for the underwater adventures. You are a diver, right?" (p. 5)
But things start to go wrong from day one. Daniel almost dies underwater as his oxygen tanks were contaminated with carbon monoxide. The native fishermen are hostile to the idea that Daniel's marine research will mean that they won't be able to fish as much as they like. Daniel and Sam find the bodies of finless sharks underwater, sharks whose fins had been removed and their blooded bodies thrown back into the deep. The count of sea cucumbers was way down. All this was evidence that local fishermen were supplying the Asian market with delicacies taken from these waters.
Sam and Daniel's lives are in danger. The mystery is intense as we follow Sam underwater and on land. The ending and wrap up was a little bit too neat for me, but I wholeheartedly recommend this book for those mystery readers who would also like a great setting - the Galapagos Islands, both underwater and on land. I learned a lot about scuba diving, its delights and its dangers.
Title: Undercurrents: A Sam Westin Mystery by Pamela Beason
Release date: April 2, 2013; Berkley
Source: review copy from publisher
Objective rating: 4.5/5