Alcohol. Pole-dancing. Music. Drugs. Sex. Are we talking about the world’s craziest party, or a book? It’s the latter, actually, that is the topic of this dissertation. The book is DARK TIDE, and it is the sophomore effort of Elizabeth Haynes, whose debut novel INTO THE DARKEST CORNER was the subject of much critical acclaim. While somewhat different from, and maybe not quite as riveting as, its older sibling, DARK TIDE nonetheless is an interesting, character-driven work with just enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning from beginning to end.
Genevieve Shipley (the name is somewhat ironic, as is quickly revealed) is the protagonist and first-person narrator (for the most part). She is the resident owner of Revenge of the Tide, a houseboat that she is refurbishing herself. A secondary theme of the book recounts the canard of the two happiest days of a boat owner’s life --- the day she buys it, and the day she sells it --- but for the most part Genevieve is content with her purchase, which is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. The story moves back and forth in time and place between her present, at a dock in Kent, where she is quickly accepted by her nautical neighbors, and her past in London, where she had been working in computer and software sales while saving toward her dream of living on the water. It is Genevieve’s past that haunts her present in DARK TIDE.
"...an interesting, character-driven work with just enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning from beginning to end."
Finding that her day job simply did not provide her with enough money to fulfill her boat dreams, Genevieve took a second job dancing at a high-end strip bar --- a “Gentlemen’s Club,” if you will --- where she quickly became one of the more popular performers, not only with the clientele but also with the ownership. Her past and present dramatically collide when, on the morning after she throws a houseboat-warming party, she awakens to discover Caddy, one of her former fellow dancers, floating dead next to the Tide. This, of course, brings the police and, more significantly, DC Jim Carling, who is almost instantly attracted to Genevieve.
However, she is still enraptured with Dylan, a rough and enigmatic enforcer at the club who left her with a mysterious package for safekeeping and then disappeared from her life. Genevieve is almost certain that the package is part of the reason for Caddy’s death, and when another horrific incident occurs, it seems likely that her secret past as a dancer is about to catch up with her, and not in a good way. While Genevieve grows more and more frustrated over her inability to contact Dylan, she seeks comfort, if not safety, with Carling, even as some very dangerous men draw ever closer to her, as betrayal and misguided jealousy endanger her and those around her.
While DARK TIDE somewhat lacks the substance of its predecessor, it is still a decent romantic suspense novel, though at times it seems uncertain of precisely what it wants to be. The Acknowledgments provide an interesting background as to how the book came to be, and indeed gives it a bit more dimension, particularly as a study for aspiring authors. While it is doubtful that DARK TIDE will attract new readers to Haynes, those who enjoyed INTO THE DARKEST CORNER will not be sorry after having read this one.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 15, 2013