Dead In The Water is the second book in The Water Trilogy by Britney King. She describes it as a psychological thriller, and it is, but not for reasons I am familiar with. This is not a story of twisted, deep mental scarring with resultant bad behavior. Jude Riley is an assassin, one of two main characters who the reader appropriately meets in a therapist’s office. Jude wants to join “the firm,” and this interview is part of the hiring process. Questions about Jude’s wife Kate make Jude feel uncomfortable. He can’t tell the truth, that Kate is an assistant assassin. While trying to work out believable answers for the skilled psych-evaluator, Jude also reminisces about secrets he keeps from Kate. Lying can be more difficult than telling the truth. But telling the truth could result in bad consequences for Jude and Kate, a couple who live well outside the law.
While Jude is perfectly happy to live inside a life of secrecy, not socializing with neighbors and limiting all community involvement, Kate has different ambitions. She wants dinner parties, barbeques, and neighborhood discussion groups during the time she is not on a mission with her husband. The pair are supposedly a pair of freelance assassins specializing in targets who have managed to go unpunished by traditional law enforcement. There is a minor disconnect here because even if the couple operates independently, they must get orders from somewhere. This element is not explored in the story, and it makes almost no difference to the quality of the story. This question of employer identity hung around in my mind as I continued the story. I expected a solution to appear at some time. If it appeared; I missed it. In Jude’s therapy session mentioned above, Jude is trying to obtain a position with a company that performs the same job; the evaluation by the therapist is to see how well Jude can keep confidences.
Jude is the dominant person in the relationship as far as accepting and planning assassinations. Kate seems willing to learn from him and seemingly accepts all Jude’s plans but occasionally adds a few elements Jude did not and would not appreciate. In their first assassination of this story, Kate is late and loses the element of surprise the couple was counting on. After the subject was subdued, Kate wanted to administer a few bruising marks. Her actions would leave evidence that the death was not a suicide, and Jude was not happy. From this point forward, Jude will have frequent flashes of thought that it might be easier to terminate Kate. Jude feels she is changing in many ways not for the better. In a man and wife assassination team, when one member thinks it might be better to terminate the other, tensions rise. Jude will resist this urge and almost treats Kate’s mistakes as if they are the mistakes of a silly child. An example I found humorous:
“It’s impossible to be married for any length of time and not have plotted your spouse’s death at least once. Love is dynamic that way.” (p.195)
The story is told in chapters alternating between a Jude perspective and a Kate point of view. Occasionally there are time shifts as each character remembers things in their pasts that got them to the present place. The shifts of time and narrator voice are well done and easy to follow. It quickly becomes obvious that Jude and Kate are a mystery to each other. There is lots of surface communication, but little depth. When an impasse occurs, the couple has sex. Anywhere, anytime. The language used to portray sex is inoffensive as far as I am concerned. No need for a trigger warning. I thought the frequent allusions to sex were humorous. More dark humor appears with the very casual acceptance of death. When friend Anne suggests that she might dance with Jude, Kate is only briefly jealous, comforting herself with thoughts of the ease with which she might kill Anne. Subjects are killed and bodies are hidden in cars of the non-killing spouse, without their knowledge of course. The contents of car trunks lead to tense situations in which a body might inconveniently appear. Again, I thought this more humorous than suspenseful. Here is an example of what I find funny. Jude and Kate are having a dinner party, but there is a complication.
“We can’t leave her (Monique, the ex-nanny) here, Jude,” I say, nudging you in the right direction. “The party starts in twenty minutes.” (p.58).
Jude and Kate have a daughter, Olivia, and a son, Brady. They also have secrets. Brady seems to be closely following in Jude’s footsteps. It is a spoiler I won’t reveal and is another element that makes the novel worth reading. This story is not my first Britney King novel, nor will it be my last. This author writes fast-paced, page-turner, read-in-one session novels. I gave this novel four plus Amazon stars, not five, because of several unanswered questions I still had at the end. Mysterious is entertaining, but I was looking for a few more clues about what was going on in character lives than the story provided
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