In the first of her novels about the McKenna clan, Dani Pettrey introduces us to Cole, the oldest of the McKennas, and most of his four siblings. When a plane goes down just before arriving in the town of Yancey, Alaska, Cole is part of the diving team sent to rescue/recover the plane's occupants, including the aunt of his old flame Bailey, the girl who broke his heart ten years ago. When the "accident" drags Bailey back to Yancey, a place she never wanted to see again in her life, her knowledge of Russian studies and her aunt's Russian shop becomes invaluable for police investigation involving murdered divers. In order to solve the mystery, Cole and Bailey have to work together with the police, but will they be able to reconcile the past before the dangerous present catches up with them?
I tend to prefer historical novels, though a good thriller has its place. What surprised me about Submerged is that though it is a contemporary suspense story, it has a strong thread of Alaskan and Russian history, making for a fascinating read. While much of it is hypothetical "what could have happened," it is based on well known (and perhaps some lesser known) Russian history and its ties with Alaska. I thought it a brilliant component to the story.
Poor choices that Bailey made in her youth continue to haunt her. Though she turned to Jesus and completely turned her life around, she still fights with guilt, a lack of self worth, and a damaging old reputation. Pettrey does a good job reiterating that, yes, there might be long-lasting consequences to one's behavior before turning to Christ, but when Jesus wipes one's sins away, one is a new creation in Christ. By God's standards - the only standards that matter - one is new and clean. It is still hard for Bailey to wrap her head around that truth, but the healing God provides goes a long way!
Pettrey does a great job establishing family dynamics and hinting at where things might lead beyond this particular novel. It is clear each of the siblings has their own personality and role in the family, and it will be fun to see where the series goes. Piper, the youngest McKenna, and family friend deputy Landon Grainger are secondary main characters with their own viewpoints (though to a lesser extent than Cole and Bailey), setting up the next book to come.
Mystery and suspense, history and hidden treasure, romance, healing, the great outdoors - this book has something for everyone! 5 out of 5 stars!
0.5: "Shadowed" (Sins of the Past romantic suspense novella collection)