Iris Johansen's latest novel, FATAL TIDE, tells the story of Melis
Nemid, an oceanographer who lives alone on Lontana's Island in the
Lesser Antilles with her dolphin friends, Pete and Lucy: "The
female dolphin was much more physically affectionate than Pete" and
one night Melis is both pleased and surprised when he touched her.
"Ordinarily their behavior was playful, almost giddily exuberant.
It was only when they sensed she was disturbed that they became ...
docile. She was supposed to be teaching the dolphins, but she was
learning from them every day ... they enriched her life and she was
grateful for that."
Suddenly her peace is shattered by the appearance of "Cal Dugan,
Phil's first mate." Phil Lontana is Melis's foster father who is
currently on the lam, but the threat from those he is running from
is only partially eliminated by his absence. Phil's obsession is to
find the fabled island of Marinth, an incredibly wealthy city that
"was reputed to be a technological and cultural mecca for the whole
world. Then one night, the gods took back what they had created.
They sent a great wave and drew the city back into the sea where it
Then enters Jed Kelby, millionaire extraordinaire, a matinee idol
type who is also an oceanographer interested in finding the buried
city. He has the means and the connections to do it --- all he
needs is Melis's cooperation. But, of course, he is not the only
one who has an itch to plunder the depths of the ocean to discover
what might be buried in the deep. His name is Archer, a sadistic,
psychopathic, conscienceless killer who knows too much about Melis
and her past. He stalks her and threatens her to the point where
she is almost driven mad. He uses his nasty information to break
her spirit and coerce her into taking him to Marinth.
The plot of FATAL TIDE is predictable and simple. The best parts
describe the dolphins and their behavior, especially the
relationship between Pete and Lucy as they swim happily in their
space. The fascination with them increases as they begin to change
when let loose in the wild. Of course the romantic tension between
Melis and Jed blossoms into a great love. And the good guys take
care of putting the bad guys out of business.
FATAL TIDE is an easy read. The phrase "airplane book" comes to
mind, and fans of romantic thrillers should enjoy this one!
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 21, 2011