For most people, Hawaii is heaven on Earth. But U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent Rachel Porter sees the rot beneath its natural splendor. Its pristine shores are harboring a new breed of criminal, those who would upset the fragile ecological balance in the name of profit ... those who would kill in the cause of greed.
On the trail of illegal traffickers in exotic animals, Rachel stumbles upon something far more insidious and frightening and a suspiciously shark-devoured human corpse that washes up on the rocks is only the beginning. Suddenly everyone wants her off a case that is too hot to handle. But she won't be warned, coaxed, or threatened away, even as the blood that darkens the tropical waters marks Rachel Porter as the most endangered creature in Paradise.
About the Author
A freelance journalist specializing in wildlife enforcement issues, Jessica Speart has been published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, OMNI, Travel & Leisure, Audubon, and many other publications. She is the author of several mysteries and lives in Connecticut.
Read an Excerpt
Restless WatersA Rachel Porter Mystery
By Jessica Speart
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Jessica Speart
All right reserved.
There are days when paradise actually lives up to its overblown billing. This pristine moment in time seemed to be one of them. I floated weightless on a sheen of pure liquid sunlight, the orb's rays dancing on a sea of cobalt blue. The only thing that could have made this instant any better would have been a properly chilled martini.
That obviously did it. I'd pushed too hard and gone over the paradise limit. Within bloody seconds, my vision of Shangri-la was promptly shot to hell.
"Paddle, Porter! Paddle, paddle, paddle! Harder! Don't be such a wuss. Come on. Stand up on your feet and take command of the board!" shouted the self-appointed General Schwarzkopf of Waikiki Beach.
I'd have gladly shot back a few suggestions of my own, were it not for the teenage hotdoggers that contemptuously snickered while rockin' and rollin' on their surfboards around me. Funny what one's fragile ego will make you do. I placed my hands along the sides of the board, pushed hard with my arms, and stood up in one swift move.
Whadda ya know? This was proving to be easier the third time around.
That thought nibbled at the corners of my mind as a wave pulled my feet out from under me and I tumbled about like a single die in search of its mate. "Shaken, not stirred" could have been my motto as the sea proceeded to toss me around like a limp rag doll. Sheer panic grabbed hold of my nerves as seawater rushed into my mouth and boogie-boarded down my throat. But that was nothing compared to Mother Nature's strong hand, which bounced my head along the shallow bottom like a cheap rubber ball.
I flinched as something prickly pierced the sole of my foot--probably a jagged piece of coral or a sharp lava rock. But all concern quickly vamoosed with the appearance of a dark shadow looming off to my left.
My heart abruptly kicked into gear, pounding hot and heavy with fear. I fully expected to come face-to-face with a primal monster bearing yellow-flecked eyes and hundreds of lethal knives in its mouth. Most likely a creature that would regard me as its very own version of surf and turf.
A green turtle, doubling as an underwater flying saucer, swam into view not a moment too soon, and I breathed a mental sigh of relief. My elation was reflected in the dazzling kaleidoscope of greens and blues shimmering above me. I quickly made my way toward them, feeling as if my lungs were about to burst. It was time to call it a day as I broke the surface, coughing and gasping for air.
I'd have deserted my surfboard in a New York minute, were it not for the fact that the damn thing was attached to my foot by a leash. The board bobbed about like a wound-up prize fighter, making me wonder just who was in charge of whom, anyway.
I pulled myself on top of the board and began to paddle for shore, wanting nothing more than to plop down at the nearest tiki bar. To hell with hoping to surf the big waves at Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach one day. Though I might be crazy, I wasn't yet certifiable.
Visions of mai tais danced in my head, each decorated with a colorful paper parasol. The image prompted me to paddle even faster. Which is why I'll never understand what compelled me to glance back over my shoulder and again catch sight of something from out of the corner of my eye.
This time I was determined to ignore any imagined monsters. I'd done a good enough job of scaring myself for one day. Only the damn thing refused to go away. Instead, it momentarily disappeared and then resurfaced, as if daring me to take a closer look. Unable to stop, I obeyed.
The next instant, my pulse wildly hammered in my ears, and I held my breath, as if hoping that might help make me invisible. For this was no docile sea turtle, but a glistening dorsal fin that slashed through the water like a sleekly sinister knife. That's when it hit me. Maybe this was what I had seen before.
Help! I wanted to shriek at the top of my lungs. Only the scream impotently froze in my throat. It was then I looked back again to discover that my foot was bleeding.
You idiot! That must be what's attracting the thing. Sharks can smell blood from two miles away!
Terror and frustration duked it out as I now began to paddle even faster, all the while knowing there was no outrunning the marine equivalent of a fighter jet.
Maybe so. But I'll be damned if I'm going to become sushi for some alpha predator, I thought, continuing to flail my legs in the water like a couple of frenzied seals.
Instead I prayed to the powers that be, vowing to change my ways if only I were saved. Hell, I'd even learn to cook, clean, and sew if it kept me from becoming shark bait ...
Excerpted from Restless Waters by Jessica Speart Copyright © 2005 by Jessica Speart. Excerpted by permission.
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What People are Saying About This
“This tale moves as fast as Speart’s energetic and determined Fish and Wildlife Agent, Rachel Porter.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
They all walk in and jessica shows her brothers to their rooms and they all fall asleep.