Reviews by L. J. Roberts


ANDREW MAYNE – Black Coral. Underwater Investigation Unit #2. Thomas Mercer, paperback, February 2021.

First Sentence: Everyone is looking at me funny.

   The Underwater Investigation Unit is called out to a submerged van at Pond 65. The passenger has been recovered; but Detective Sloan McPherson, the team’s top diver, needs to recover the driver. Rather than one, she finds three bodies in the van, and evidence of a fifth person having been involved. The investigation puts McPherson and the UIU on the trail of the serial killer, while also trying to catch a thief stealing millions of electronic equipment off mega-yachts.

   Mayne has a great voice layered with wry humor— “‘If you have any questions, please contact us through our website,'” George concludes. … ‘We have a website?’ I ask in a whisper.” He is a true storyteller who creates wonderful characters that play into one . One wants to share passages of his writing with others. Not every male author writes women well. Mayne is one who truly does, and it is a pleasure to read.

   Slone is fully dimensional. There is a nice injection of the character’s personal life which adds to balance to the story, injecting light into the dark. There is realism in admitting no one is a perfect parent. one provides compelling She is introspective both about the case— “I see two different men in front of me. One is the monster. The other is the victim. The victim didn’t make the monster, but it sure did nurture him.”, and her life as a cop— “…where do I go from here? Catching the New River Bandits was a good thing, but in no way deeply fulfilling.”

   Having Sloan be an archeologist, as well as a diver and cop, brings dimension to the character and opens interesting doors. The plot is very well done and filled with surprises, yet none of them feel contrived. The things one learns are unusual.

   Periodic references to events from the first book, don’t distract from the current story, nor does the crossover reference to Mayne’s Theo Cray series. This book stands nicely on its own merit.

   Of the two cases, one is fairly straight forward, but the second takes one down a surprising, twisty path with some definite “Oh, my” moments. Although the main plot is about a serial killer, the book is far more suspenseful than gory.

   Black Coral is an excellent read full of humor, suspense, wicked good twists, and a very unexpected ending.

Rating: Excellent.


      The Underwater Investigation Unit series —

1. The Girl Beneath the Sea (2020)
2. Black Coral (2021)
3. Sea Storm (2022)