It's the end of summer, and Devlin Quick is invited to join her best friend Booker's family on vacation at their summer home in Martha's Vineyard. Booker has a science project for school: to take a daily bucket of water from the Vineyard Sound and submit a sample to an oceanographic DNA lab. From that, they can actually tell you what species of fish have been in those waters: striped bass, blues...and sharks! But Devlin comes up with something else in her bucket from the days when pirates hid treasures along New England coastline. With access to the crime DNA lab back in NYC (courtesy of her mother), Dev is going to solve the mystery of this treasure...and figure out all of the secrets Martha's Vineyard is hiding.
About the Author
Hometown:New York, New York and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:May 5, 1947
Place of Birth:Mount Vernon, New York
Education:B.A., Vassar College, 1969; J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1972
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“Don’t go into the ocean, Dev,” Booker Dibble shouted to me. “It isn’t safe!”
“I’m just wading in up to my ankles for now.”
“But the lifeguard isn’t here yet,” he said. “If there’s a strong riptide, you could get pulled right out to sea.”
“Three years on the Ditchley swim team,” I said, “I think I can hold my own in a couple of feet of water.”
It was just after nine o’clock on an already hot and humid August morning. Booker and I were on a stretch of beach called the Inkwell, in the town of Oak Bluffs on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.
“You’re way past the ankles. Looks more like your knobby knees are sunk already,” Booker said. “Just back up and sit tight for a while. Make a sand castle. A huge one, maybe in the shape of the New York City Public Library.”
Booker and I had solved our first caper at that great building. But I was ready to move on now. New adventures interested me more than looking back, and the key to our next caper was just ahead of me in the dark waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
“Maybe later,” I said.
“The beach will get too crowded before very long. Now’s your chance.”
There had been a fierce thunderstorm the night before. The sand was churned up in the foamy water that was crashing around me and landing on the beach with more force than usual. I was trying to steady myself, stretching out both arms and balancing the large plastic bucket I was holding in my left hand.
“I just need to scoop up my sample,” I said, leaning over to run the pail from side to side in the rough surf to gather sixteen ounces of water—and some of the sandy sea bottom—for my fall science project.
Everyone in my class had the same summer assignment. We each had to gather a water sample from the sea or a freshwater lake, to prove whether fish left their DNA behind when they swam through the area.
“I promise you the ocean is still going to be here when the lifeguard shows up. He’s just running late.”
“I know that. But part of the idea is that I’m going to collect my sample at a specific time every day. Nine o’clock. I don’t want my first effort to be out of sync,” I said. “I have to be consistent. All good scientists have a firm methodology, don’t they?”
“Scientists don’t take foolish risks,” Booker said.
“Benjamin Franklin flew a kite when there was lightning right over his head. In fact, a kite with a silk string and a metal house key attached to it,” I said, shaking my head at the mere thought. “That’s how he proved that lightning causes an electric charge.”
“Sounds like risky business,” Booker said.
“You’re just worried because your grandmother doesn’t want anything bad to happen to me while she’s in charge of our Vineyard visit. Isn’t that right, Zee?”
Zee—short for Ezekiel—is Booker’s eight-year-old cousin. He was sitting on a towel about ten feet from the shoreline, holding Booker’s iPhone in his hands to keep it dry. He was busy playing with some game or app and just shrugged his shoulders.
I was so busy trying to show off my science skills to Booker—one of my two best friends—that when I swiveled my head to talk to him, I got knocked over by a gigantic wave. It rolled me around on the ocean floor, and I swallowed a mouthful of salt water as I came up for air.
“There’s your sample for today, Dev,” Booker said, laughing at me. “You’ve got more H2O and seaweed in your stomach than you have in the bucket. Need a hand?”
I stood upright, planted both feet firmly in the shifting sand, and turned my back on Booker and Zee.
“Give me one more try,” I said.
“You could stand right next to me and get your water for the day,” Booker said. “Don’t make more work for yourself than you need to.”
“It’s about the sand out here. It’s been soaking forever, not like that dry stuff on the beach.”
I was timing the sequence of the waves, sticking my right hand below the water’s surface to stay still. Then I dragged the pail deep into the ocean floor and lifted it up, confident that I had collected not only a pint of water, but the muck below it. That stuff was home to snails and crabs and critters—maybe prehistoric ones—I hoped our science teacher had never seen.
I swiveled toward Booker and held up the pail in victory.
“Doing experiments is awesome,” I said. “You were right about that. I feel like I’m on the verge of some really big discovery.”
I walked toward Booker, almost completely out of the surf, and rested the bucket on a flat piece of sand. Then I backed out again, raised my hands over my head like I was about to dive, and flipped into the water. I held my breath with my head underwater, plowing into the waves and away from the beach. When I had gone twelve or fourteen feet, I lifted my head and stood up—neck deep—then walked toward shore, shaking myself off as I emerged from the water.
“You don’t need to show off,” Booker said.
“I was covered in sand,” I said. “I had to do that to rinse it out of my bathing suit.”
That was when I heard Zee call out a name. He was a quiet kid, and I was startled when I heard him yell.
“What did you say?” I asked him, cupping my hands around my mouth.
“Gertie!” he yelled again.
Zee had stopped playing with Booker’s phone and now had his eyes glued to a spot near the end of the pier where the ferry from the mainland docked.
I turned to look in that direction and saw something break the surface of the water. If Gertie was a swimmer in trouble—with no lifeguard in sight—I knew that I could help her.
“C’mon, Booker!” I said, jumping into the waves and starting to freestyle my way into deeper water.
Out of the corner of my eye, it looked like Booker had followed me in for the rescue, but instead I felt him grab my right foot and tug me back toward the beach.
“Get out of the water,” he said, with a tight grip on my leg.
“Someone needs to help that swimmer,” I said, wriggling my body around to break free. But Booker dragged me back out until I sat on the sand like a beached whale.
People were getting out of their cars on the ferry line and snapping pictures of the scene below them, but no one was taking any action to make sure Gertie was okay.
“Gertie doesn’t need help, Dev,” Booker said, huffing and puffing from his battle to pull me onshore. “She’s a really strong swimmer.”
“You know her?” I asked, puzzled by his reaction to the crisis I thought was unfolding in front of our very eyes.
“Not personally, but I know who she is,” Booker said. “She’s a great white.”
“A what?” I said, looking from his face to Zee’s.
“She’s a great white shark,” Booker said. “Best to stay on the beach while she’s in Vineyard waters.”
Excerpted from "Secrets from the Deep"
Copyright © 2018 Linda Fairstein.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
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