In the Bookcase


Book Review: Below the Surface

Below the Surface by Tim Shoemaker (5 star review)

Below the Surface
Code of Silence series, #3

written by Tim Shoemaker

397 pages // published in 2014 // Christian middle-grade mystery


Something is wrong with Cooper. He’s plagued by a fear he doesn’t understand and can’t control. Cooper just wants to escape, and a summer vacation aboard the restored cabin cruiser, The Getaway, with best friends Gordy, Hiro, and Lunk seems like the perfect way to do it. Two weeks of fun—with no mysteries or life-and-death danger. That’s the plan.

But their plans are shattered the very first night when they witness a murder. Or did they? Despite their intentions of leaving the investigation to the police, narrow misses and creepy encounters lure them in. Is there really a body floating in the underwater currents of the lake? The closer they get to the truth, the deeper into danger they get. Too late they see the trap. Now each of them must face their own buried fears . . . just below the surface.

My Review

5 Star Rating

If I had one word to describe this middle-grade book that took me by surprise, it would be: GRIPPING.

I haven't seen much of the suspense genre in a kid's category. Especially Christian suspense... for kids. What a niche. Basically, I enjoyed this read, because it was something different. And new.

To be honest, there's actually some pretty creepy stuff that happens. Allegedly, a girl may have died in the lake, right in front of the four main characters' eyes. Later on, the four kids go through various stages of not even wanting to be in the water because her body could be floating around or laying somewhere on the lake bed. On top of the idea of murder, someone is out to get the kids. Or so it may seem, as a string of dangerous coincidences keep happening. Like warning messages. Not fun during your two-week summer vacation.

Not only that, but there's some other interesting elements in the book. I loved how the author really brought in a problem that one of kids was having – the fear of being under water. It was something that Cooper hadn't had a problem with before, and yet the panic rose each time he dipped in the lake. This is something he really tries to overcome, and he strives to dig out the dark, lurking thoughts to get rid of the frightening experiences he's going through. Cooper doesn't work on his fear it just by himself though, he has his friends, his dad, and God.

“He couldn't do it alone. But he wouldn't be alone. God was real – and powerful – and loving. He believed that, didn't he? Yes, Cooper would never be alone. God was with him – and God was big enough to handle whatever lay below the surface.”

The main reason why I can really feel confident in recommending this book as a Christian is the godly view that is incorporated into the plot. The spiritual content is by no means overwhelming, but it's there, sometime subtly, sometimes showing up in conversation, or when the characters are praying, etc. It shows their faith in a good light, just as if it's a normal part of everyday life – just right.

Cons? There was one one scene where a boy is physically fighting with his father. He may have had reason to do so, but some parents may or may not approve of the scene (Chapter 29). Only one other element caught me off guard, just slightly... one of the villains in the story is depicted as the devil in one scene, especially when it says: “...he only need a pair of horns for the effect to be complete” (Chapter 99).

Anyways, it's definitely an intriguing book, and not just for kids either. There are moments that are action-packed, even with bullets flying – to keep you on your toes.

Available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback and ebook format.

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  1. I've read the first book in this series. It was pretty good too. You've gotten me interested in these books again, and I might should read #2 and 3.

  2. This sounds like a really interesting series and was surprised to see that it is a middle-grade mystery novel! I like picking up books for different ages all the time so I may have to check this one out!

  3. sounds suspenseful