But their plans are shattered the very first night when they witness a murder. Or did they? Despite their intentions of leaving the investigation to the police, narrow misses and creepy encounters lure them in. Is there really a body floating in the underwater currents of the lake? The closer they get to the truth, the deeper into danger they get. Too late they see the trap. Now each of them must face their own buried fears . . . just below the surface.
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Below the Surface
By Tim Shoemaker, David Conn
ZONDERKIDZCopyright © 2014 Tim Shoemaker
All rights reserved.
Vacations were all about having fun—or running from something not so fun. Cooper needed this vacation to be about both. The fact that he was starting high school in a matter of days wasn't what gnawed at him. Not really. It was something way deeper. Buried. And he intended to keep it there.
The more he packed his days with fun, the more effective his escape would be. And thanks to The Getaway—rather, thanks to Dad's uncle, who gave them the old cabin cruiser—that's exactly what he planned to do. He stood on the teak deck and looked out over Lake Geneva, or rather Geneva Lake, as it was officially named.
"Hey, Coop." It was his cousin Gordy's voice.
Gordy bobbed in the two-man inflatable raft by the back of the boat, his white-blond hair blowing back from his forehead. He grinned and pointed at the bucket of dead fish propped between his knees. "We doing this or not?"
Cooper eyeballed the target of their prank—the Malibu wakeboard boat tied to a buoy about halfway between them and the beach. "Absolutely."
Hiro gave him a questioning look, as if she wasn't sure this was a good idea. Predictable.
Cooper smiled and hustled to the stern of the boat. He peeled off his T-shirt, swung over the transom rail, and dropped onto the attached swim platform below. The buoy his dad had rented was among a dozen others anchoring pontoon, sail, and speedboats in a corner pocket of Lake Geneva bordering Big Foot Beach State Park. Like the heel of a giant sock, the lakeshore curved in two directions away from where the boats were anchored.
The south shoreline ran nearly straight west from this elbow of the lake. And in the other direction, the beach jutted north along Lake Shore Drive and the park. Eventually this shoreline wound around Maytag Point and on toward town.
The swim to either the beach or to the south shore looked to be about a hundred yards, give or take ten strokes. The Getaway was tied to the farthest buoy from either shore, which meant nothing but water between them and the horizon. The spot—and the lake—was absolutely perfect.
"Lunk's gonna wish we'd waited for him," Gordy said. "But we'd be crazy to miss this chance."
"You're both crazy to take this chance," Hiro said.
Whether Hiro was worried that something would go wrong or that her dream of being a cop someday conflicted with pulling a prank like this, Cooper couldn't be sure. And he wasn't about to ask.
Cooper glanced at the Malibu wakeboard boat again. The extreme green fiberglass hull with yellow accents practically glowed in the setting sun. Only a navy blue sailboat sat buoyed between them and their target.
Hiro rested her forearms on the rail above him. "Let's go for a walk on the beach instead. You guys can skip stones or something." She smiled and nodded.
Gordy laughed. "Nice try."
Hiro's black braid hung over one shoulder as if it were pointing at them. Accusing. "This is a bad idea, guys."
She was probably right. The Malibu was empty, but not for long. If they were going to do this, now was the time.
"We're on vacation, remember?" Hiro said. "No trouble. No worries. Just fun."
Cooper nodded. "That's exactly what we're doing. Having fun."
Hiro raised her eyebrows. "Is that what you call it?"
Gordy grinned. "Your problem is that you don't know how to have fun."
"I can think of a lot more enjoyable things to be doing than planting stinky fish in some innocent stranger's boat." She smiled and shook her head. "What is it with guys?"
She used the word enjoyable like that was the goal all along. Which only proved she didn't understand guys at all. This was about taking chances. Risks. And living to laugh about it later. "It gets the adrenaline pumping," Cooper said. It wasn't much of an answer, but it was the best he could do. She wasn't going to get it anyway.
"That's it? That's your explanation?" Hiro looked incredulous. "Five minutes ago a guy built like Superman tied that boat to the buoy and rowed his trophy date to shore."
"He doesn't look anything like the real Superman," Gordy said.
Hiro tilted her head to one side. "The real Superman? And here I thought he was a fictional character."
Gordy looked at her like she was weird. "You've never watched the old black-and-white TV show? It's like from back in the fifties or something."
"You might find this hard to believe," Hiro said, "but I find better things to do than watch old TV shows or pull pranks."
"You're right." Gordy didn't even look up. "That is hard to believe."
His jab didn't even faze her. "Did you notice the guy and his date—what was really going on there?"
"Yeah," Gordy said. "They crossed the street and went into the pizza place. Blah, blah, blah. We all saw that. What's the problem?"
Hiro sighed that way she did when she was about to make a point. Here it comes.
Cooper smiled and climbed into the inflatable.
"When guys are around girls, they like to show off," Hiro said slowly. "Impress them. Prove how tough they are."
Okay. Maybe Hiro understood guys better than Cooper thought.
"And while Superman is chowing down on pizza and romancing his babe, we're going to leave a little surprise in his boat." Gordy grinned. "We'll see how impressed his date is then."
"Exactly." Hiro looked up at the darkening sky like she was hoping for a little help. "You aren't seeing the red flag here?"
Ah. The red-flag approach. One of Hiro's favorites.
Cooper shrugged. "Looks like a green flag to me."
Gordy laughed. "Or a checkered one." He shielded his eyes with one hand and scanned the beach. "I'm not seeing a red one anywhere."
Cooper loved Hiro's exasperated expression. Yeah, this vacation was going to be exactly what he needed.
Hiro sighed. "I hate to sound like the mom here, but you two are running with scissors. You know that, right?"
Gordy shook his head like he was trying to make sense out of what Hiro had just said. "What?"
"You're living dangerously. Run with scissors and eventually you'll get cut."
Gordy waved her off. "It's a harmless prank."
"Hmmm." Hiro didn't look convinced. Or impressed. "We'll see how harmless it is once Superman comes out and catches you two messing with his boat."
Hiro was always seeing the danger in things. Trouble was, Cooper knew she was usually right.
"He's not going to catch us," Gordy said, "unless you keep delaying us. C'mon, Coop."
Gordy scooted to make room in the inflatable. "Sure you won't join us, Hiro?"
"You two have your fun," she said. "I'll watch from here. Excuse me if I don't see the point in all this."
"Point?" Gordy looked confused. "We're not trying to make a point. There is no point to it."
Hiro smirked. "So it's pointless. Thanks for clearing that up for me."
Gordy reached into the bucket, grabbed a bloated sunfish by the tailfin, and tossed it at Hiro. She ducked and screamed. The dead fish nearly hit her in the face, then slapped the water on the other side of the boat.
Cooper and Gordy laughed.
Hiro glared at them, but the smile was still there. Sometimes she worried about them more than she needed to. Cooper understood that.
"We'll be right back." Cooper pushed off from the swim platform and paddled with his arms toward the speedboat. How long had the couple been inside the pizza place? If they were dining in, there was still plenty of time. But if it turned out to be a carryout order—he'd be wishing they'd listened to Hiro.
He paddled harder. Getting caught doing a prank took all the fun out of it—the mark of an amateur. Not to mention the fact that he really didn't want Hiro to have the satisfaction of being right.
They paddled past the sailboat. Probably a twenty-eight-footer. Small cabin for sleeping. Ra Ra Avis was painted on the stern. Now the Malibu was in plain view.
Gordy scooped with both hands. "Surgical strike or buckshot?"
Cooper eyed the boat. Buckshot was the quickest— which made it safer. Just get within throwing range and lob the fish into the boat. There'd be no control over where the fish landed—and the boaters would spot them immediately when they got back.
Where was the fun in that?
But a surgical strike meant pulling up alongside the boat and at least one of them going inside to strategically hide the fish. He looked back at the restaurant. No sign of the boaters. "Surgical."
"Agreed." Gordy grinned.
A light breeze out of the northwest kept the green wakeboard boat in a perfect position to block the view of anyone watching from shore. Hiro, on the other hand, would have a perfect view—if she decided to watch.
They quickly closed the distance between them and the Malibu. Cooper grabbed the corner of the swim platform and pulled the inflatable close.
Gordy nodded in the direction of the name painted on the transom. "What's that all about?"
"Krypto Night." Cooper read the name aloud. Immediately he thought of Hiro's nickname for the driver: Superman. The boat's name was obviously a play off the fictional kryptonite that drained Superman of his strength. Was the boat's owner being clever? "Maybe he thinks he's Superman, and this boat is his one weakness." It made sense, in a way. The boat was kryptonite green. And what guy wouldn't love a sweet boat like this?
"Well, I hope Superman has a strong stomach." Gordy tapped the bucket. "Some of these fish are getting really ripe."
The boat looked brand-new, and the dead fish weren't going to make Superman happy. Cooper hesitated. Did he really want to do this? He pushed the thought out of his head. He was on vacation. "One of us needs to stay with the inflatable."
"I'm on it," Gordy said. "You can have the honor of planting the fish."
Cooper glanced toward the pizza place. There was still no sign of the boat's owner.
"Okay." Cooper crawled onto the swim platform. "Here we go." He climbed over the motor hatch and crouched on the deck. Staying low, he made his way to the side of the boat. "Ready when you are."
Gordy poured out most of the water, then handed the bucket up to him. "Have fun."
With the water gone, the fish reeked. He lifted a white seat cushion and hesitated. The guy might never get the smell out of the boat. The boat was too nice—or maybe Cooper was. Besides, if he dropped a fish into the storage compartment underneath, the guy would smell it immediately. Figuring out who did it would be easy.
An ice chest sat on the floor just behind the driver's seat. Cooper lifted the lid. Jackpot. Ice and drinks. He scooped three dead fish into the cooler. When somebody reached inside for a cold drink, they'd get a real surprise. Cooper stared at the bottles and suddenly knew that Superman wasn't planning to eat in the restaurant. He was going to bring the pizza to the boat. Time to move.
An air horn blasted nearby—from The Getaway, to be exact. Cooper raised his head just enough to see over the side of the boat. Hiro was motioning wildly as if she were waving a flag—and it definitely wasn't a green one.
"Coop," Gordy said, "Superman just left the pizza place. Let's fly."
The guy and his date walked lazily across Lake Shore Drive. Pizza box. Carryout. Terrific.
The thing about pranking was keeping your head if something didn't go according to plan. And this was one of those times.
Cooper kept his eyes on Superman. "He'll see me crawling over the side. Start paddling. I'll catch up."
Once Gordy started paddling, Krypto Night would block any chance of the inflatable being spotted from the beach.
Gordy looked up at Cooper one more time as if to be sure, then laid back and paddled for Ra Ra Avis. The sailboat was half the distance to The Getaway, and all Gordy had to do was get the inflatable behind it. Cooper turned his attention back to the beach.
Superman hauled a small rowboat off the sand. His date was already inside, holding the pizza box on her lap. Superman boarded, took a seat with his back to Cooper, and pulled on the oars.
Go. Cooper tossed the bucket over the side. The thing would sink, and they could find it later. Right now it would only slow him down. Staying on all fours, he crawled to the open bow seating area. He glanced toward shore. The guy's back was still to him. Hopefully the girl wouldn't spot him. But if he stayed in the boat much longer, they both would. Cooper slid over the side and into the water without a splash. His head never dipped below the surface.
Gordy had a huge lead, his long arms reaching and pulling. He skimmed around the nose of the sailboat and disappeared from view almost completely.
Now all Cooper had to do was join him without being spotted.
Cooper struck out for the sailboat with strong, fast strokes. Krypto Night wouldn't screen his escape for long. He knifed through the water, turning his head to the side to gulp fresh air on every third stroke.
His mental clock was spinning. He didn't dare look back. Superman would be pulling up to Krypto Night any second. They'd see him for sure.
Fifteen yards. So close, yet so far.
Ten yards. He'd have to go under. It would be slower, but it was the only way to reach the other side of the sailboat without being seen.
Cooper took a deep breath, jackknifed, and dove. Instantly his heart pounded in panic. Something was down here. Waiting for him. He opened his eyes to a blur of dark greens and black—and let out a gurgling scream. He was going to die. He sucked in a mouthful of water, triggering a violent spasm of coughing and choking and gulping for air. More water went down his windpipe. Was he dying? Surrounded by suffocating blackness, he kicked and spun and clawed his way toward daylight.
After breaking the surface, Cooper thrashed at the water, choking, gasping, and choking some more. Get out of here! Get out of here! Everything was a blur. Grabbing something, he frantically pulled himself up on it.
"What are you doing?" The voice sounded far away. "Coop, you're going to sink us."
Everything was still spinning. Cooper grabbed and held on.
"Let go of me, Coop. What's wrong with you?" It was Gordy's voice. Closer now. "Coop! You're safe. Easy now. Easy."
Cooper didn't let go, but his coughing eased up and his vision started to clear. He was inside the inflatable—curled up on the bottom like a half-drowned puppy and clutching Gordy's ankle. How did he get here?
"Tell me this is all an act," Gordy said.
Cooper tried to steady his breathing. His whole body was shaking, and his heart was still doing the mambo.
"Okay. I get it," Gordy whispered. "What did you see down there?"
What did he see? Blackness. But that didn't mean there was nothing there. Whatever it was, it was something that reached right through his skin and wouldn't let go. The invisible hand of death. Cooper let go of Gordy's ankle and looked up at him.
Gordy jerked his hand from the water and scanned the surface of the lake. "Tell me you didn't see an alligator." Gordy looked terrified.
Cooper didn't want to move. He didn't want to talk. He just wanted to get back on dry ground, hop on his bike, and ride and ride and ride. What had just happened to him?
Yet somehow he knew—or had a sense, anyway—that something he'd buried months ago wasn't really dead. And now it was rising from its grave.CHAPTER 2
Hiro stared at the inflatable. What was Cooper up to? He should have made it to the other side of the sailboat easily—but he surfaced just seconds after going under. He loved the water. Was more likely to swim underwater than on the surface. But he'd thrashed around like someone who couldn't swim at all. And he'd practically pulled Gordy into the water with him while trying to climb into the inflatable raft.
She smiled to herself. It must have been part of his strategy. Act like you're a total novice in the water, and they'll never suspect that you swam to their boat to prank it. Coop definitely looked convincing—a little ammo to tease him about.
Hiro watched the girl holding the pizza box. She was wearing a plain white T-shirt and tight jean shorts. Pretty. Trim. Probably eighteen or nineteen years old, if Hiro had to guess. There was something fluid and purposeful about the way the girl moved—like she'd gone through high school swinging pom-poms.
Excerpted from Below the Surface by Tim Shoemaker, David Conn. Copyright © 2014 Tim Shoemaker. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERKIDZ.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Cooper gets his long-awaited summer vacation on beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. There’ll be sleep outs on The Getaway, the MacKinnon’s restored cabin cruiser, snorkeling, scuba, swimming, lots of eating and pranking with his three friends, Gordy, Hiro, and Lunk—just the kind of entertainment they need before entering ninth grade. A couple of months previously, imprisonment in a flooded basement and a near drowning have wounded Cooper's psyche, Gordy's too. And they don't even know it. Cooper's just not ready for another run in with deadly criminals. When Hiro, the cop wannabe with her woman’s intuition, sniffs out foul play on a girl-gone-missing, Cooper and the other guys remained in denial. But burying your fear doesn't mean that it’s dead. Lethal danger is bearing down on Cooper and his friends. Will they realize it in time? Below the surface explores post-traumatic stress and is an excellent sequel to the terrors Cooper experienced in Back Before Dark. The author, Tim Shoemaker, did an excellent job juggling five points of view thus giving readers insight into each of the four friends, their personal struggles and relationships to one another. He also progressively raises the tension and mystery while pushing the plot forward to the dramatic conclusion. At the end of the book, the author also includes an excellent discussion of fear and how to handle it, as well as stimulating discussion questions.
Tim Shoemaker in his new book, “Below The Surface” Book Three in the Code of Silence Series published by Zondervan gives us Fear can be buried…but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. From the back cover: He believed he’d beaten his fear. Killed it months ago. But he’d only buried it. Fear has a way of resurrecting itself, and right now it was crawling up his throat. Something is wrong with Cooper. He’s plagued by a fear he doesn’t understand and can’t control. Cooper just wants to escape, and a summer vacation aboard the restored cabin cruiser, The Getaway, with best friends Gordy, Hiro, and Lunk seems like the perfect way to do it. Two weeks of fun—with no mysteries or life-and-death danger. That’s the plan. But their plans are shattered the very first night when they witness a murder. Or did they? Despite their intentions of leaving the investigation to the police, narrow misses and creepy encounters lure them in. Is there really a body floating in the underwater currents of the lake? The closer they get to the truth, the deeper into danger they get. Too late they see the trap. Now each of them must face their own buried fears . . . just below the surface. Fear is not dealt with has the potential to kill and certainly destroy. This is the main theme that is running through “Below The Surface”. There is fear of the water and fear of being alone to name just a few that are explored in this story. Cooper and the gang may have witnessed a murder and a girl is possibly missing. Now they have to determine is what they saw correct and what about the girl? This is a story about friendship and what it means to have our friends. It also deals slightly with the impact of male leadership from an adult. In addition to everything it is also a page-turning, you won’t be able to figure it out mystery thriller. This book is supposed to be written for young adults but I have news for you this book should also be read by the adults as well. This is good stuff. Cooper, Hiro, Gordy and Lunk are wonderful characters that are bright, resourceful and full of faith. “Below The Surface” is a book that will keep you up late into the night flipping pages as fast as you can read. I recommend this book with enthusiasm. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
I am going to start this off with my own PSA :) This book is written for a young audience (ages 11-14). I know, I know….we are all adults here… but some of you might have children who love to read just as much as you and those kids might want to read more of the things that you read. This trilogy is awesome and I would highly recommend it for the ages above (my daughter has even read it, she’s 8, but reads well above her grade level). There is still a lot of mystery and suspense, but without any of the gratuitous violence, sex, drug use, etc. that we see in books aimed more towards older audiences. I was excited to see this book come up on the blog tour because my son had actually read the first two books and loved them and he’ll definitely be reading this one. This is part of a trilogy but you don’t have to have read the first two to enjoy it. Of course, it will give you more insight to the characters and more understanding of situations that are referenced (such as Gordy being kidnapped), but you won’t be completely lost. The past experiences that are referenced all culminate and have a direct impact on our characters in this book. Cooper, Gordy, Lunk and Hiro are all burying fears and this summer vacation together is going to test the bond of their friendship. It’s the last summer before Cooper, Gordy, Lunk and Hiro start high school and they are all spending it together. While waiting on Coop’s dad’s boat for Lunk to arrive, Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro witness a crime. But something about the whole situation doesn’t add up in Hiro’s mind and she’s determined to find out the truth; even if she has to do it all on her own. Unfortunately, Hiro is usually right. A series of events are set in motion where the past and all of their fears begin haunting the group. But someone is determined to keep them from discovering the truth and he isn’t beyond silencing them forever. I like the life lessons that Mr. Shoemaker puts into his books. He tackles some subjects that you might not even think about discussing with your kids, but the stories actually open up an avenue to discuss them. Friendship is another great theme in his books. Being a good friend is introduced in a variety of ways. If you have younger children I high recommend this series. Adults will even enjoy it; so read it first to make sure that it’s material that they will understand. This is more than a great book, but a lesson that I am sure your kids won’t even realize they are getting!
Chills, Excitement, Mystery & Fun This is the story of four teenagers, one girl and three boys. They are all good friends who, along with their families, are taking a lake vacation together right before starting their first year of high school. The action starts right at the beginning, and a mystery develops involving a missing girl who might have died–or she might not be missing at all. There is a mix-up over the girl’s identity. The teenagers in this story are immediately thrown into the middle of the confusion and possible danger. Much of the story has the lone female teenager, Hiro, convinced that foul play has taken place, while the rest of her friends waver between partially believing her, to complete disbelief. This is a real page-turner that involves lots of suspense and mystery along with believable dialog and situations. Although this is the third book in a series, the story definitely stands on its own. There is a small amount of referral back to earlier books, but it is easy to understand the story-line, and is not confusing. I have not read the other two, but did not have trouble following Below the Surface. The author states this is the end of this series. I hope not, because I would like to revisit these characters after they have had some high school experiences. I was pleased with the way the author handled the book’s characters that had fears which ran the gamut from swimming under water to doubts about fitting in. Also, at the end of the book, the author has some great advice about fear, and what should be done when one experiences it. I appreciated that this was a clean story written from a Christian point-of-view. Although this book is supposed to geared toward young adults, the story and characters are so well-done that adults would like this tale as well. I certainly enjoyed it, and highly recommend this 5-star book to adults, young and old alike. The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through Zonderkids/Thomas Nelson Publishing for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner. Despite my receiving the book free, it has not influenced my judgment, and I have given an honest opinion.
Below the Surface A Code of Silence Book By Tim Shoemaker Fear can be buried... but that doesn't mean it's dead This is the last summer before High School and Cooper just wants to hang out with his friends and enjoy it, but something won't let him. Something is Below the Surface of the water and this something is scaring Cooper. The question is what exactly is down there? When Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro think they witness a crime, a series of events is set into motion and the past and all its fears begin stalking them. Cooper, Gordy, and Lunk want to ignore Hiro's concerns but Hiro is usually right. And she isn't convinced that a murder wasn't committed. Something doesn't add up and she's is determined to discover the truth even if it means going out on her own. Someone is determined to keep them from discovering the truth, even if it means silencing them forever. And he does mean forever... Below the Surface is the third book in the Code of Silence trilogy. You don't have to read the first two books to enjoy this book, but you will know about past experiences that are mentioned in this book. And these past experiences have a direct bearing on the fears Cooper, Gordy, Lunk and Hiro are burying. This summer will prove just how strong their bonds of friendship are. I think part of the reason the kids got into trouble is because they really needed more adult supervision/interaction. They got into the biggest messes when there were no adults around and the fact that they didn't tell their parents the whole truth of what was going on was the issue. The statement about silence being golden is so not true when there are problems. And underlying fears were something that they needed to talk about, as was evidenced when Cooper's dad was with the boys. I really enjoyed this book and the intensity and excitement level really held my attention. I did not want to put it down until the very end. And I have to say I was a little disappointed to learn that this is the last book (well a lot disappointed if you must know). These books should appeal to middle grade readers and even young adults who enjoy realistic heart-pounding fiction. I was provided a copy of this book through the BookLook blogger program in exchange for my honest review
Ive read Code of silence,Back before dark, and Below the surface and they were fantastic! Tim Shoemaker is great at making the readers guess 'who done it'. A great book for teen readers, im 14 and totally love this series. Is a clean read with good Christian morals and really builds your character as you read Cooper, Gordy, Hiro, and Lunks stories. Has a lot of suspence and im possitive you wont want to put this down.
Once again we return to northern Illinois to the adventurous world of Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro. Below the Surface, is the third installment in the Code of Silence series, is just as action packed and is just as well written as the first two books. What happens when you think you've witnessed a murder? It's a tough question that has you wondering what will the characters do? Some Summer Vacation this turned out to be! It has a very "teen-version" rear-window sort of feel to it. The story keeps the reader guessing at every turn. Boys, girls, and readers of all ages will love diving back into the world of these three friends. Highly recommended, highly anticipated, and highly amusing. Below the Surface is a well written, fast paced book and will have teens swept up in suspense within the first few pages! Plus it teaches our children the valuable lessons of faith, as well as the importance of friendship and doing what's right. Thank you to Zondervan for this preview copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.