The Mermaid Brokers by Sue Hinkin
The word mermaid usually evokes images of beauty, mystery, and seduction. But in Sue Hinkin’s capable hands, it also comes to encompass visions of rape, torture, and murder. The latest installment of the Vega and Middleton series introduces us to Piscem Auratus, an international sex tourism ring run by a crazed, washed-up Esther Williams wannabe, where the grand finale to a weekend of depravity for the elite clientele is getting to decide if his chosen mermaid will get thrown to the sharks—literally. Needless to say, young women in California aren’t exactly lining up to volunteer to be part of the show. So, when a bright college teacher goes missing, it is up to the tenacious team of Bea Middleton and Lucy Vega, along with a fantastic supporting cast, to find her before she becomes nothing more than blood in the water.
Four books in and author Sue Hinkin is becoming quite proficient at knowing what makes a good thriller. Believable, interesting protagonists, irredeemable evildoers, and thoroughly riveting plots have become signature components of Hinkin’s writing. In The Mermaid Brokers, for the first time it is someone outside Lucy and Bea’s immediate sphere that faces the greatest danger. Allowing the Vega and Middleton universe to continue to expand is a wise move on the author’s part. Making room for strong, compelling secondary characters who can carry a scene or two creates lots of exciting possibilities for future storylines. Based on the strength of The Mermaid Brokers, one hopes that there will be many more novels to come. The plot is creative and compelling, the antagonists are twisted and self-absorbed, and Bea and Lucy are engaging and smart. For authors, it is often hard enough to simply become a big fish in a small pond, selling a couple hundred books and having a modest but devoted following. The Mermaid Brokers has made it clear that Sue Hinkin has the chops to become as big a fish as she wants in whatever waters she likes.