Review: White Water, Black Death by Shaun Ebelthite

November 04, 2017

White Water, Black Death by Shaun Ebelthite
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Release - September 5, 2017
Genre - Thriller
Multiple POV - 3rd person
Length - 284 pages

Magazine editor Geneva Jones has been sent on a trans-Atlantic cruise to help secure a major advertising agreement from the CEO of the cruise line Rachel Atkinson, but her efforts to win her over are curtailed by a mysterious crew death. Geneva suspects foul play. Rachel insists its suicide. A former investigative journalist, Geneva can’t resist digging deeper, but what she finds is far more devastating. There’s an Ebola outbreak on the ship, everyone is trapped aboard and Rachel is trying to keep it secret.

Geneva knows enough about Ebola to be terrified, but she’s also onto the biggest story of her career. Rachel turns Geneva’s own colleagues against her when she tries to investigate, so she enlists the help of her son, Aaron Atkinson, whom Rachel adopted from Uganda seven years ago, when he was a teenager. Now an isolated and vaguely broken adult, he’s an easily manipulated source. At least that’s what Geneva thought. Off the coast of Bermuda, with the ship anchored in quarantine, Aaron makes a public announcement informing passengers of the outbreak.

Panic surges through the ship. People begin jumping overboard, ignoring a ship-wide lockdown. The ship’s security start to lose control, tasering passengers indiscriminately. A mayday is declared in front of the world’s media, but Bermuda refuses to open its maritime border. The ship limps toward Miami, with more than half of everyone aboard sick. Rachel shocks everyone by resigning after a public lounge is converted into an apocalyptic triage clinic. Geneva has lost her story, Ebola can’t be treated on-board and the nearest help is more than 3,000 miles away.

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Geneva was a cruise line magazine editor tasked with writing a glowing review of the anniversary voyage of the Seaborne line. She kept hitting snags in her story with the way the CEO, Rachel, and the COO, Richard, kept secrets and furtively moved around the ship, holding clandestine meetings and talking out of the left side of their mouths. The staff and crew seemed to be hiding something, but every ‘answer’ only led to more questions. Then a crew member ‘commits suicide’. Or did she? Well, the executives were sure to try to brush the death under the rug, but Geneva couldn’t help but want to dig deeper into what could turn into a bigger story than the pat on the back she had planned. With the help of fellow passengers and the CEO’s son, Aaron, she was determined to do just that. But things only go from bad to worse when an illness on the ship makes an appearance and starts spreading rapidly, showing itself to be more serious and a lot more deadly than it first appeared.

From its chilling prologue that served as a harbinger of things to come to the frightening way events unfolded, I was tensely held captive by the way this author told this story. Although it was extremely hard to like anyone in this book, if I were to pick someone to root for, it would be Aaron. He was by far the most sympathetic of the group. He was kind, generous, naive, and an all-around nice guy who was dealt a crappy hand. The plot was brilliantly paced and I appreciated how the timeline was broken down by each day and each hour. It made the happenings on board seem as if they were occurring in real-time. It was thrilling and creepy and I had a ball of anxiety in my gut right up until the end. It’s funny, but I had always planned to take my children on a cruise some day. However, after reading this haunting tale, I’m second guessing myself.

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