Fatal Tide by Iris Johansen is a really good mystery novel. Not a typical whodunit, it contains a compelling mix of murder, adventure and psychological twists that unfold against a tropical Caribbean backdrop.

Fatal Tide begins with a bang when prominent oceanographer Phil Lontana dies after his boat, The Last Home, “explodes into a thousand fiery pieces”. The coast guard fails to locate the body and any evidence of accident, foul play, or suicide is lost within the ocean’s memory. Lontana’s shocked foster daughter, Melis Nemid -who appeared as a child character in Reap The Wind and had a cameo in Iris Johansen’s Dead Aim-is left as sole heir. Having recovered from a past almost too traumatic to imagine, her life of peace and tranquility as a dolphin researcher is shattered.

After Melis’ dearest girlfriend is brutally murdered, and being the only link between the two deaths, Melis finds herself the target of an international arms dealer; a sadistic man who attempts to drive her to the breaking point to force her to the breaking point and make her reveal a hidden secret, Lontana’s secret, that could change the world.

In Fatal Tide, Iris Johansen has created a fiercely independent, brave, and exceptionally clever heroine. Melis Nemid is determined to not only find her strength but to show it. What unfolds in this mystery novel is a twisted game of savage manipulation and ultimate betrayal as the main character proves some things are worth killing for.

Fatal Tide is a deftly woven tale of lies, deception, and cold blooded murder that buoys the reader between brief oases of calm and waves of impending disaster. Always interesting, this mystery novel by Iris Johansen features unexpected developments that deepen the understanding of some characters and foster mistrust of others.

Using a recurring interplay between good and evil, Iris Johansen takes us to the depths of human ugliness and the greater triumph beyond, creating a compelling and satisfying read.

Fatal Tide
Iris Johansen
Bantam Books 2004
368 pages

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