The Woman Underwater by Penny Goetjen

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#Mystery, #Thriller, #Suspense,

No one disappears without a trace….

Don’t try to tell Victoria Sands that time heals all wounds. It doesn’t work that way for a woman who’s lost her husband the way she did. She was never able to say goodbye. Never able to arrange a memorial. Receive friends at the service. Write thank-you notes for the flowers and donations sent in his name. Because it didn’t happen that way.

Victoria’s husband never returned home at the end of a work day. And no one seems to know what happened to him.

In the seven years since his disappearance, no witnesses have stepped forward and no credible evidence has been collected—not even his car. The few tenuous leads the police had are now ice cold. He simply vanished on a field trip with the private boarding school where he taught behind stone walls—the same school their son now attends.

But someone has to know what happened. And that someone may be closer to Victoria than she realizes.

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Yanking the curtain open on its oval rod encircling the clawfoot tub, she cranked the faucet as high as it would go. As she waited for the water to get hot, she wrapped her arms around herself, trying to shake off a shiver. She knew better than to look into the mirror at that hour but couldn’t help herself—like gawking at an accident scene. Once you do, you can’t unsee the tragic mess.

A stranger looked back at her. Dark circles under her eyes seemed worse than usual. Puffy and bruise-like, faded red. Fortunately the intimate—what Vince liked to refer to as miniature—bathroom would steam up quickly and obliterate her image, but she’d have to remember to layer on the concealer thicker than usual in the morning.

The recurring dream only went so far. Was there more for her to see? Would it be revealed if she could hang in there and stay with the dream? She always woke up as she plowed headfirst into the water. Did she lose her balance and fall in? Did someone push her?

Then a more terrifying question crossed her mind; if she did stay asleep and see the dream to the end, would she never wake up?

Balancing on the curved porcelain edge, she peeled off her nightgown and eased her legs up over the side and into the tub, the water swirling at her feet. She leaned into the shower, the beads of water stinging her face. Pulling away to snatch a breath, she leaned in again. She imagined she was under a waterfall in a tropical getaway, willing the nightmare away.

But the images pressed to the forefront of her thoughts. Had the seven years of feeling lost without Robert manifested itself in her dreams? Or was it more literal and a harbinger of things to come?

Turning off the shower, she plucked a plush white towel from the hook next to the sink and blotted the quickly cooling water from her skin. By the time she slipped into her bathrobe, she felt a chill up her back again. Drawing the lingering thick steam into her lungs and letting it out slowly, she envisioned the dream swirling down the drain along with the sudsy water. A clear mind. Only positive thoughts. Restful sleep for what was left of the night. She needed to think it into existence.

Hitting the light switch and tossing her towel on the rack, she returned to bed. Vince’s side was empty, and she could hear him sleeping soundly across the hall. Running a hand across the sheet where his body had been, it was already cold. Sliding over to his side, she grabbed the larger of his two pillows and pulled it close, taking in his scent. She lay awake for what seemed like hours, listening to his even, heavy breathing while replaying the dream in her head, the details of which were evaporating from her memory the longer her eyes were open.

“The Woman Underwater is a vivid and poignant story of a woman haunted by an unsolved mystery from her past. This book, where surprises and suspicious characters abound, is for anyone who’s ever been told to move on from something they knew in their heart they shouldn’t. I gulped it down in a single day.”

—Megan Collins, author of The Family Plot

“Goetjen excels at exploring the depths of characters pushed to their limits, and confidently blends high-stakes emotion and hints of the supernatural in this page-turning tale of suspense.”

—Shari Randall, author of the Agatha Award-winning Lobster Shack Mystery series

“Goetjen’s setting is bucolic Connecticut, a perfect contradiction for the internal chaos Victoria experiences while living a life without resolution, and a surprising amount of truly thrilling scenes. Red herrings are sprinkled artfully throughout. . . emboldened by Goetjen’s ability to portray her characters as imperfect human beings yet likeable in most instances. . . a challenging and courageous task for a writer.”

—C. Michele Dorsey, author of the Sabrina Salter Mysteries and the Danny and Nora O’Brien Mysteries

“I didn’t put it down. Vivid imagery, suspenseful and thrilling. Kudos to Penny Goetjen.”

—Heather Douglass, NetGalley Reviewer

“Penny Goetjen's storyline is excellent and the novel was well written. Victoria Sand's husband has been missing for seven years with no clues to his whereabouts. Although involved romantically with other men during her grief, Victoria cannot move past the loss of her husband Robert. The plot is constructed cleverly and connects in a way that keeps you glued to the pages. There are moments of tension and suspense with some unexpected twists and discoveries as the story unfolds. The novel is worthy of five (5)stars.”

—Ron Batty, NetGalley Reviewer

“Fast paced thriller that will leave you reeling. I absolutely enjoyed the plot and really loved the characters as well. Anyone who loves a thriller will love this book! 5 Stars.”

—Lynn Beck, NetGalley Reviewer

National award-winning novelist Penny Goetjen (pronounced goat-gen) writes murder mystery and suspense novels where the settings play as prominent a role as the engaging characters. A self-proclaimed eccentric known for writing late into the night, transfixed by the allure of flickering candlelight, Penny embraces the writing process, unaware what will confront her at the next turn. She rides the journey with her characters, often as surprised as her readers to see how the story unfolds. Fascinated with the paranormal, she usually weaves a subtle, unexpected twist into her stories. When her husband is asked how he feels about his wife writing murder mysteries, he answers with a wink, “I sleep with one eye open.” She is a proud member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Penny splits her time between Charlston, SC and Connecticut.

  • Having grown up exposed to and with a fascination of ghosts, hauntings, and other things that go bump in the night, Penny can speak to why she weaves a subtle paranormal thread into her novels. Although her initial paranormal experience left her terrified, her trepidation soon turned into curiosity.

  • Penny can speak to how her novels have a recurring theme of the strength of love. Its power can compel people to hang onto hope, accomplish what they could never have dreamed they could, or stand strong in the face of adversity.

  • Strong female characters dominate the leading roles in Penny’s stories. Often during talks, though, she feels the need to publicly apologize to her characters, particularly her protagonists. In her words, she “puts them through hell and back, and there are moments that it’s not clear if they’ll make it through.

  • Colorful settings are a key to Penny’s stories. Readers applaud her strong descriptive language that fully immerses them in the location; feeling the ocean’s spray on their faces from waves crashing on the beach, breathing in a salty sea breeze while navigating a breakwater, or smelling jet fuel hanging in the air after a helicopter crash. She writes what she knows and sets her novels in places she’s fallen in love with so the reader does too.

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