British actress Catherine Steadman (from Downton Abbey and more) dives into the murky waters of thriller writing with her debut novel, Something in the Water.

When Erin’s husband Mark loses his job, she suggests that they need an escape. Rather than cancel their planned honeymoon to Bora Bora, the young couple decides to act reckless and hope that his prospects improve once they return from a relaxing getaway.

The sun, surf, and isolation of Bora Bora seems perfect. Despite her fears, Erin agrees to go scuba diving with Mark, but things take an unexpected turn when the couple discovers a black bag in the ocean’s depths. This simple discovery – whether fortuitous or inauspicious – will alter the direction of their lives in ways they cannot imagine.

Veteran thriller readers will not be surprised by the contents of this mysterious bag, however, since the focus of Something in the Water is how this discovery affects this couple – and not so much on the history of that bag and its contents – the anti-climatic nature of that reveal is mitigated. Unlike many thrillers, this novel favors character development over plot shenanigans.

Returning back to their real lives in London, readers watch as Erin and Mark make a series of chooses that seem both ill-advised and irresistible. Much of this thriller’s excitement comes from seeing how easily an innocent couple is able to adapt to and learn to be nefarious. Not to mention the inevitable wish fulfillment the novel will not doubt inspire in readers: Thinking about what one might do should one ever find themselves in a similar situation. (Note: finish the book before you make that decision, you just might change your mind – or maybe not.)

Erin’s career as a documentary filmmaker makes for a fascinating side storyline. Her current project revolves around filming the release of three criminals from incarceration and tracking how they adapt to life on the outside. Juxtaposing this with the couple’s decent into criminality becomes almost a reverse dynamic of the same life-lessons and is nothing short of inspired.

The audio book version of Something in the Water is read by the author – and in this case that author is a celebrated actress, so the results are nothing less than stellar. No one knows these characters as well as Catherine Steadman and listening to her bring them to life is pure joy.

As a first novel, Something in the Water, is quite impressive. The momentum of the narrative keeps readers engaged, while still allowing the necessary room for character development that is often missing from the thriller genre. With any luck, Catherine Steadman will continue to write crime fiction because readers are going to be hooked on her unique style.

BUY LINKS: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman