A juicy mystery of jealousy, love, and betrayal set on a Semester at Sea-inspired cruise ship, with a diverse cast of delightfully suspicious characters who’ll leave you guessing with every jaw-dropping twist.
After being jilted by her ex-boyfriend and best friend, Jade couldn’t be more ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime—11 countries in 4 months, all from the luxurious Campus on Board ship—and to wedge an entire globe between her and the people who broke her heart.
But when Jade discovers the backstabbing couple are also setting sail, her obsession with them grows and festers, leading to a shocking murder. And as their friends begin to drop like flies, Jade and her new crush must race to clear her name and find the killer they’re trapped at sea with….before anyone else winds up in body bags.
Perfect for readers of Natalie D. Richards, E. Lockhart, and Karen McManus!
Lying in the Deep mostly delivers on what it promises: a tense mystery stuck on a ship with a killer. However, how it reaches the ending was not as unpredictable or compelling as I had hoped, especially with a protagonist I wasn’t sure I liked half the time. Perhaps I read too many mysteries or I’m starting to guess the out of the box scenarios far too often, but there was just something missing here that prevented me from loving it.
**Lying in the Deep comes out May 2, 2023**
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest review
I’m starting to believe that I read far too many mysteries to be surprised by “twist” endings. Or perhaps I just think along the same lines as Diana Urban after reading all of her thrillers published so far.
Lying in the Deep advertises itself as a fast-paced, harrowing search for a killer onboard as time runs out before possibly more bodies drop. Everyone is a suspect, perhaps even the protagonist herself. I mean, unreliable narrators are a thing these days, right?
On paper, this book has everything going for it that would lead to a deep seated love for it. Travel? Check. Dead body mystery? Check. Some romance that may or may not be relevant but is still fun to have in a story? Check. Those are all great things that I enjoy. But execution connecting these elements are just as important.
The synopsis and prologue tells you quite early on what the mystery is and who is the one found dead. Unfortunately, it’s not until almost 50% of the way into the book that we get to this point of finding a dead body. For literally the first half of the book, we are getting the opportunity to “get to know all of the suspects onboard”. I understand the importance of setting the scene with a handful of newcomers who all may have a (hidden) motive against the person who ends up dying. But 50% of the book just seems largely too long for that.
It’s also not helpful that I found our protagonist, Jade, not super likable. While I empathize with her situation against her ex best friend and ex-boyfriend, this girl fantasizes far too much about killing them. When her new crush, Felix, comments about her propensity to wake up and choose violence, it’s not entirely untrue. She gives me “unreliable protagonist” vibes. I wondered half the time if the information we are getting about the situation that led to her breakup with the two closest people in her life was missing important details.
Once the mystery does get underway, it felt rushed. Unlike others who have read this book early, I couldn’t get into the tense atmosphere so easily. Yes, there were plenty of suspects onboard but I never felt Jade was in true danger as she ran headlong into solving the mystery herself. Any tense feelings came from the countdown to solve the mystery before the boat made port and all the evidence would be handed over to the local authorities.
For the romance, I understand the chemistry between Jade and Felix but it’s kind of hard to root for a couple when he is also technically a suspect. I also felt the feelings they developed for one another was rather fast. The situations between them were not many prior to the events leading to the murder, plus Jade was mostly preoccupied with her ex whom she still harbored complicated feelings for. I didn’t dislike their romance, but I wouldn’t say I shipped it (ha ha).
The main thing that makes this mystery stand out from others in its genre is the Campus on Board setting. I really did enjoy this. A little bit of travel descriptions were even included for London and Lisbon which makes me crave travelling all the more. I didn’t expect such detailed touristy scenes set in these cities – I thought everything was mostly focused on their time on the boat – so I thoroughly enjoyed seeing these European locales through their eyes. It makes me wish I could’ve done schooling in such a way. You’re never too old to continue learning.
As with all mysteries, I don’t want to say too much about the ending, but I will say that it wasn’t as unpredictable (to me at least) as it seemed. I think I guessed the twist all along but was hoping to be proved wrong. It will shock some people, but I unfortunately was unable to enjoy it in such a manner. If you don’t manage to guess how it all ends, I think it makes the mediocre journey to the ending worthwhile nonetheless. I will always applaud Diana Urban’s out of left field endings, though I have come to expect them. Whether the journey to the end is important to you, or the ending and its twists trump all, Lying in the Deep does offer something unique to readers, even if it isn’t the mystery.