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Girl Beneath The Sea - Book Review

by Mary Knutson 2 years ago in review
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Suspense: Success or Fail?

Photo by John Cahil Rom

In the realm of literature, there is a fine line that many authors try to walk but most can’t make; this line is the genre of suspense. Suspense is something difficult to master because while many writers attempt it, most fall off the line and either snap the tension or get too complicated and lose their audience. Mayne did a great job keeping the plot on track and understanding that the story line itself was complicated, so he was careful with not having too many subplots. This is a great technique to writing suspense because it cuts down on confusion for the readers.

Mayne did something else incredible by slackening the tension from time to time without ever losing momentum in the story. When one question was answered three more would arise and continue to pull the story forward. Notice here, I didn’t say “push” the story forward, to push the story forward would be for things of the past to come back and be relevant in the forefront of the story. However, in this sense he pulls the story forward by giving readers more questions than answers, urging us to follow.

Another unique factor of suspense is the minimization of coincidence. In a true suspense or thriller, the main character should rarely—if ever—just “happen” to stumble upon relevant information or ideas regarding the main plot. Mayne was brilliant in the fact that his main character actively sought out information without stumbling across the thing that would become helpful later. He didn’t cheat his way out of situations. The main character, Sloan, always had consequences to her actions. Every choice the characters made caused a reaction or triggered a chain of events. Consequences make the story realistic and when readers realize there is something to lose, they become even more invested in the story, rooting for the good guys and praying the villains don’t win.

A major question that writers need to ask themselves when writing any scene in suspense is “What could possibly go wrong?” then make it happen. In every scene from a family lunch to the climax of the story, something goes wrong and the characters have to either fight or figure their way out. It constantly made me want to keep reading so I could make sure everything turned out alright in the end.

Mayne also did well in portraying the diversity of Florida. He showed people from all different ethnicities and backgrounds coming together in this melting pot of a state. People often don’t realize how many subcultures we have in The Sunshine State. Practically everywhere in the world is represented somewhere in Florida and Mayne showed it. He portrayed the concerned Latina grandmother along with Finnish boat hands working at the docks. By adding the diversity to the novel, he adds an extra layer of reality which works to keep readers in the story and holds their focus.

If you are interested in suspense and cop novels, this book is definitely for you! He keeps the tension up and stakes high without becoming overwhelming and being simply too much. The only flaw I found in the entire novel was his use of voice, most characters had very similar voices and didn’t vary too much in how they spoke. However, the good far outweighs the bad here and I would still definitely recommend it.

If suspense and “cop novels” are something that interest you—or even if they aren’t—this book is fantastic. Suspense is not normally a genre I reach for, but The Girl Beneath the Sea may have swayed me. No writer is perfect, but Andrew Mayne came pretty close, especially in terms of suspense.

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About the author

Mary Knutson

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