SWIMMING WITH THE ANGELS

After the success of his well-received spiritual/supernatural debut, Soul Catcher (1995), Kersey’s second novel follows landscaper Grayson Reynolds and his wife, Heide, a hedge fund associate. They are struggling through their first year of marriage, wedged within the suffocating grip of household debt. Believing she has the ultimate answer, Heide, together with her boss, hatches a plan to covertly pilfer $100 million, putting it into a Cayman Islands bank. Her secret is violently exposed when the couple, on a yacht with Heide’s boss, are attacked by a gun-toting female assassin who kills everyone onboard except Gray, who narrowly escapes. An FBI interrogation reveals the money Heide diverted belonged to the Sinaloa cartel, a ruthless and viciously cutthroat Mexican crime syndicate that wants its laundered drug money returned, at any cost. Terrified and desperate to escape into obscurity, Gray, in an ultimate act of self-preservation, goes into hiding in the Cascade Mountains north of Seattle at a trout hatchery owned by a kindhearted family. Country life as a farmhand suits Gray well, but Kersey knows how to keep the tension taut as the inevitable end to the protagonist’s self-imposed concealment casts gloom over every move he makes. The blooming romantic affections for Gray from two sisters cause the kinds of complications he doesn’t need as he tries to crack the password to his murdered wife’s Cayman Islands bank account and keep the money for himself. Gray is a reliable narrator, and though the plot is simple, it’s also engrossing. The author keeps his list of characters compact and his plot kinetic and tightly spring-loaded with plenty of surprises to keep readers on their toes. By the time Heide’s past comes back to haunt Gray, readers will be more than ready for the unavoidable rush of mob-fueled revenge to descend on the bucolic farmland. The rousing finale pits Gray against an adversary in a bullet-riddled face-off filled with breathless suspense.

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