The sharks you are likely to encounter in the Maldivian waters are small, friendly and don’t really live up to their billing. You take one look at them and you breathe a sigh of relief. They aren’t that bad – those sharks. They can’t be. You are in Paradise. Even sharks wear halos here.
But appearances can be deceiving. And when your brain is baked under the equatorial sun, an equivalent of gas mark 8, it can be easily deceived. You begin to doubt your own judgment: is it all an illusion? It isn’t in a shark’s nature to be nice and friendly. Far away from home, everyone is a stranger. And under the umbrellas of palm trees beats a heart of darkness.
When Nicola Eagles wanders into this treacherous world, her first instinct is to fear it, but soon the sun begins to melt her defences and she lets herself drift a bit – a small fish in the deep blue sea.
Swimming with Sharks tells Nicola’s story.
She really existed. We met her on an idyllic Maldivian island a few years ago. She was a bland, unremarkable person, someone you’d never notice in a crowd, but there, on an island teeming with honeymooners, she stood out big time – she was on her own.
We first encountered her in the restaurant as she took a table next to us and smiled timidly at my husband. It wasn’t even a smile – it was a twitch of a muscle, a blink of an eye and a coy tilting of her head. Husband smiled back, being a well-mannered man. There was nothing to it, but I decided to leave nothing to chance. From that day on I had my eye on her.
I gave her a name and considered her personal circumstances. Who was she in the real world, in her real life? Why was she there on the island? But, more to the point, why on earth was she there alone?
I must say at first she was a cause of minor irritation to me. But then I got used to her. Like I said, she was one of those invisible people you’d never notice in a crowd, someone you’d never give a second thought to. I would endure her proximity in the restaurant where for some reason, known only to her, she would consistently hover near our table. Husband took to offering her his polite greetings to which she responded with the same grateful but bashful decorum. She avoided any eye contact with me and I ostentatiously ignored her. But, as I said earlier, I never took my eyes off her. Until, one day, she was no longer there. Gone. Vanished. Disappeared.
A lone woman who had gone swimming with sharks?
Swimming with Sharks is the first in the DI Gillian Marsh crime series. It’ll be published on 28th April 2016, and it’s available to pre-order now.
When fortysomething Nicola Eagles goes on the holiday of a lifetime to the Maldives, she never dreams she’ll fall in love – she’s too shy, too set in her ways. But then she meets someone who changes her life for ever…
Just when things seem to be going right for Nicola, though, she disappears without a trace. Was it a voluntary disappearance, or was she abducted – or murdered? When her absence is noted back in the UK, DI Gillian Marsh is sent to investigate.
Gillian is a good detective but her life is dysfunctional to say the least – and as she delves deeper into the case, she realises that she may be out of her depth professionally too. For Nicola’s disappearance is just the start…