This book begins with a vivid description of Hazel Moran steering a boat out into the ocean on a grim mission. She, her father, and a close family friend are disposing of a body: what is left of a man Hazel killed while he was attacking her.
Grundler gets it all right. Her detailed description of the sea at night adds texture and gravitas to the scene, she reveals the backstory slowly but carefully, slipping in details at the best moments, and Hazel's character is quickly set. She is tough, self-reliant, good with knives, and good with motors.
It turns out that Hazel is in trouble because some people involved in drug running want to locate her cousin and best friend Micah, but Micah is not to be found. It is all quite complicated and neither Hazel, nor we, the readers, know the full scope of the situation until the end.
Grundler does this by intertwining two different narratives: the main way involving Hazel and a second one involving Hammon and his sidekick Annabel. Hammon is a physically scarred young man who has had to live through countless surgeries in an attempt to use pins and plates to put him back together after a horrible accident. He only makes matters worse by trying to kill himself several times, which affects the workings of his brain.
Unlike Hazel's character, which is developed in a typical linear manner, Hammon's character is full of secrets, some of which we don't learn until the end of the book. And when each one is revealed, all the action in the rest of the book, which had seemed clear up to that point, becomes reassessed and seen in a different, convincing light.
Hammon's character is not the only one developed through this sort of reversal. But I don't want to give too much away by discussing each one.
This is an impressive book. Grundler handles plot deftly, develops characters with skill, and possesses a writing style that allows her to give a full texture to the scenes she describes. This is especially true of descriptions of boats and trucks. Hazel is a character more at ease around machines than people, and it comes through in terms of what she focuses on. As far as formatting, spelling, and grammar go, I found no distracting errors. Grundler has another book coming out in this series soon. I will certainly read it.
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