Dead in the Water


151 pages
ISBN 0-7704-2006-0






Reviewed by Susan Rogers

Susan Rogers was a librarian with the Laurenval School Board (Adult Services), Deux Montagnes, Quebec.


Unarmed and off duty, Toronto policeman Reid Bennett intervenes in a gang rape, killing two men and injuring another. This action wrecks both his career and his marriage, and the Vietnam veteran retreats to the resort town of Murphy’s Harbour, seeking an escape from violence.

However, crime finds him. As the town’s one-man police department, aided only by Sam, his German Shepherd, and Murphy, a crippled civilian, Bennett investigates a teenager’s boating accident. This event leads to the discovery of the disappearance of mysterious strangers, of drug traffic, murder, and big-time criminals. The plot is complicated and fast-moving, with a surprise twist at the end. Murphy’s Harbour comes alive as the author captures the atmosphere of mosquito-infested cottage country and its inhabitants.

The characterization of Reid Bennett adds depth to the novel. One of the “tough guy” detective school, Bennett is interesting because of his attempts to come to terms with violence. Exciting action, a realistic setting and a compelling hero combine to make this novel a gripping mystery. Dead in the Water won Scribner’s Best First Mystery Award for 1983.


Wood, Ted, “Dead in the Water,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 12, 2024,