Charlie Sweetwater saw Mexico—especially the Mexican Gulf Coast—as a spiritual second home. He’d worked, played and lived there for much of his life, and thought the country suited him better than anywhere this side of his home on the Texas Coast.
But now a worrisome and potentially dangerous development has shown up on Charlie’s radar. Young Augustus Sweetwater, affectionately known as Augie, hasn’t reported in after completing a south-of-the-border sales trip for Sweetwater Marine. Raul, Augie’s father and Charlie’s nephew, is worried sick. Drug cartel violence in Mexico has reached epidemic proportions and Augie’s path took him through the heart of the narcotraficantes’ territory.
Charlie figures Augie just went off the grid to do some well-deserved fishing, surfing and beer-drinking at the end of his trip. He’d done the same in his time. But as Augie’s unexplained absence grows, Charlie and Raul become increasingly alarmed and set off for Mexico to bring their boy home.
What they unearth is far more than the sum of their fears. The familiar and friendly Gulf of Mexico has turned into a hidden sea plagued by smugglers, human traffickers, crooked politicians and even pirates. And Augie is lost somewhere in the middle of it all.
Charlie and Raul must summon an unlikely cast of characters to aid them, including a hilariously dissolute ex-pat musician, a priest whose faith struggles against the rising tide of refugee migration, a Mexican tycoon who may have secrets of his own and a beautiful maritime “repo man”. At the end of their quest, as the deepest secret of all is revealed, Charlie Sweetwater learns that neither Raul and Augie, nor the Gulf of Mexico, nor even himself, will ever be the same again.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
HIDDEN SEA is suspense with a heart. Well-written and plotted, this book sheds light on a real-world problem while taking the reader on a journey through Mexico. Certain scenes are downright chilling, and you can't help but be pulled into the characters' worlds. As with all good suspense, there are a few surprises in store. And as with all good books with a message, the story is one that will haunt the reader well after reaching the end. Disclosure: I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway.
Hidden Sea takes you on a heartbreaking journey through the muck and mire of kidnapping and shanghaiing unsuspecting people into hard and dangerous labor aboard fishing boats with no pay and no hope for escape. When Augie, Raul’s son and Charlie’s grandnephew, is shanghaied and consigned to such a fate, it’s a race against the clock to discover what exactly happened to this young man and why and by whom. These questions are answered as the story brilliantly unfolds, but don’t get too comfortable. Hidden Sea has more twists and turns than an electric eel (and is equally as shocking), and you will emerge at the end out of breath and hungry for more. You will find no spoilers here, but I can confidently say you shouldn’t be surprised if you discover that good and evil are often masked as evil and good. The writing and the plot are fast paced and exhilarating. All the characters are well developed and engaging, but I can’t help but like Ragnar the Younger (formerly known as Billie Wayne Simmons), who has a small yet interesting part in this entire story. As a matter of fact, Ragnar, with his deceptively simple and wacky persona, bookends Hidden Sea. You could say that Ragnar’s character embodies the overall theme of this story: Many people are not what they seem. On a serious note, Hidden Sea encapsulates those ugly topics of human trafficking and prostitution, greedy corporations, and cartels. While the story mainly takes place in Mexico and South Texas as well as the surrounding waters, these despicable crimes and people are found all over the world, with both the vulnerable and the strong at risk of falling prey to such menace. But there are good people in Hidden Sea who counterbalance and step up, risking life and limb to right those wrongs, even if it means becoming a pirate to do so.
Hidden Sea was extremely well thought out and realistic. I have read in other reviews on this tour that I'm not the only one that was a little bit intimidated by the subject matter thinking it felt too real. I will admit to missing a few of the hints at the beginning because when that reveal happened at the end I was awestruck. I was pleasantly surprised, yet confused enough that I had to go back and read the first part again. I shouldn't have rushed through the foundation, which is an issue I have both inside and outside reading. I just want the finished cookies at the end of the baking process and to skip me burning them three times because I'm not paying close enough attention. I will say that you sure do appreciate those finished cookies more after taking three rounds to get them right, but I'd recommend in this case to just pay attention to all the detail this story has to offer the first time around because it makes those punches at the end so much more impactful. So, when I actually took my time the second time, the cookie was delicious! (I'll stop with the cookie analogies now and make my husband cook me some when he gets home.) I realized how precisely and beautiful all the puzzle pieces fit together and how carefully considered all the prior details truly were. The best part was you didn't even realize the pieces were missing until they were handed to you. Each reveal was perfectly placed some made you think and some made you sigh a breath you didn't realize you were holding in. The twists just got better and better as they were unwound. It was a stunning, complete picture as everything wrapped up. I found out after finishing the book that three friends sit around and make up these stories together and I got immediately jealous. I want friends like that! This brings another dimension to the stories and makes me want to go read the rest of the books in the series to join in on the fun they must have had. I've heard two heads are better than one and this story proves that three is even more phenomenal.