Catherine Steadman has plucked a juicy peach from the writing tree for her sensational first novel. Its flesh drips with corruption and this timeless question.
What’s your price?
How much would it take to buy out your conscience; your moral values; your honesty? Does everyone have their price? Do you? Be careful before you answer ‘no’. Let’s say you’re certain that you couldn’t be ‘bought’ for a hundred thousand pounds. OK. So what about a million? Still no? Try ten. Make it twenty. Sleep on it. Still the old incorruptible you in the morning? Or are you ready to seize a once-in-a-lifetime chance to become richer than you could ever possibly have dreamed?
In Something in the Water, it’s not even as if the couple facing sudden, unlooked for temptation are being asked to do anything particularly terrible in exchange for a sudden (and totally illegal) windfall.
Erin and Mark are on their honeymoon. On the surface, they make the perfect couple; she, an attractive and promising TV documentary maker; he, an impossibly good-looking and successful investment banker. They must be worth a fortune – they’ve come to the tropical paradise of Bora Bora to stay at one of its most exclusive holiday developments.
But appearances can be deceptive. Mark has just lost his job. The high-flyer has bitten the dust and the long list of personal banking contacts he was certain would ride to the rescue has quietly melted away. The fact is, Erin and Mark should have cancelled their first-class flights and accommodation. They simply can’t afford this honeymoon. But appearances matter a lot to both of them.
Pride comes before a fall.
Somehow the honeymooners manage to suppress their anxiety about Mark’s future. They luxuriate in the sun, the concierge service to their luxury bungalow, the cocktails and Bora Bora’s breath-taking beauty. And they are in love. So much so that Erin trusts Mark to re-introduce her to scuba diving, something she swore she would never do again after a near-drowning experience years before.
So they hire a speedboat, diving gear, and on-board GPS to guide them to a remote diving area. Just the two of them – Mark is a qualified instructor.
And they find something. Something in the water. A crashed private jet, lying on the seabed. With bodies still on board. Heading back to the main island to raise the alarm, they find something else – but this object is much smaller, and it is floating on the surface.
It’s a black canvas duffel bag. And when the honeymooners eventually get it open, back in the privacy of their room, they are speechless at what they find.
Block after block of high-value, unmarked US dollars. A pouch of cut diamonds, big ones. Total combined value?
Millions. Many, many millions.
And there’s a gun, too. With bullets.
Blood diamonds, blood money, weapons: the spoils of crime, beyond a shadow of a doubt. So why shouldn’t Erin and Mark keep it; all of it? Smuggle it back home? Transform their lives forever?
That’s exactly what they decide to do.
It turns out to be the worst decision of their lives.
And as their actions rapidly unravel, those may turn out to be very, very short lives.