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Far From the Shore, a Happy Couple Takes a Turn for the Worse

“All I am qualified to do is price and sell bonds,” Mark whinges. “Unless you’re suggesting I work in a bar?”

Clearly they will have to rethink their wedding. Out goes the asparagus appetizer with quail egg, beetroot and celeriac rémoulade for 22 ½ pounds a head. “Can we just decide now that we’ll go for the cheapest options on food and drink?” Mark asks. (Uh-oh, the reader thinks.)

But they manage to survive the indignities of an un-asparagused wedding. They successfully travel first class to Bora Bora for a weeklong honeymoon, a final splurge before returning to their life of financial ruin. The air is warm and the water crystal clear, perfect for an idyllic interlude of diving far from the cares of the shore. Uh-oh again.

The sharks are creepy enough. But what about the reams of white paper blanketing the water’s surface, sheets covered in ink dissolved into illegibility, forming a 10-meter-wide circle around them?

As in a horror movie, you want to shout at the characters. Don’t open that thing you are about to open! Don’t turn on that suspicious phone! Even fictional characters should know by now that pretty much anyone — Facebook, North Korea, Seamless, random teenage hackers in a basement in Vladivostok, not to mention criminal masterminds — knows where you are via your electronic devices.

Steadman keeps the suspense ratcheted up so that everyone is potentially sinister: old family friends; a gangster named Eddie Bishop who is one of Erin’s documentary interviewees and far too conversant in the details of her personal life; some sketchy guy named Patrick who hangs around where he is not meant to be; even Mark and Erin themselves, who start keeping secrets from one another.

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