Review – Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry

Learning to SwimLEARNING TO SWIM by Sara J. Henry / Crown Publishing / Mystery

Sara J. Henry set the stage for a successful career as an author with the chilling thriller, Learning to Swim. The first line artfully opens the book: “If I’d blinked, I would have missed it.” Troy Chance would have missed a child tossed into Lake Champlain like human garbage and her chance to look at what she believes and what she wants out of life. Would we dive into the frigid lake and swim the long distance with only a hint that the package is a child?

Troy faces a long list of challenges, not the least of which is why no one is looking for a lost child, a child who only speaks French. The athletic men who rent rooms in her house rescue her time and time again, as she plunges into one fractured situation after another, but her determination to protect the child is unrelenting. The unchartered waters of change draw her from her life of peace and quiet in a small Adirondack town and send her across states and country lines, exposing her to the privileged life of the child, Paul. His close-knit family ties and a devoted housekeeper take Troy on a journey into lies and deceit, deception on a large scale and the suspected murder of Paul’s mother.

Tension fills every page of Henry’s fast-paced novel with well-developed characters and settings and artfully crafted prose. A sense of humor in the protagonist always appeals to me, especially in a mystery or thriller. Troy is such a protagonist with the ability to see multiple sides to everything and laugh at herself along the way. Everyone is in danger, and Troy is no exception, driving her to evaluate new and old romantic relationships and the passions of her self-imposed isolated existence.

Troy’s independent personality and life-style coupled with her computer and research skills make her a multi-dimensional protagonist worth following. Her unexpected, maternal attachment to Paul adds a new dimension to her character. Her attachment to Paul—and the danger she faces when she tries to unravel the mystery of his abandonment—force her to evaluate everything she thought true about herself.

Secrets, avarice, relentless foreboding, jealousy, and fear all play key roles in the shocking conclusion. Do not skip a page of this thriller.

This review was provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Reviews in the August edition of The Book Breeze.

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