Bait by J. Kent Messum

(No Series)

No one is coming to your aid. We have ensured this.

Six strangers wake up on a remote island in the Florida Keys with no memory of their arrival. They soon discover their common bond: all of them are heroin addicts. As the first excruciating pangs of withdrawal make themselves felt, the six notice a yacht anchored across open water. On it lurk four shadowy figures, protected by the hungry sharks that patrol the waves. So begins a dangerous game. The six must undertake the impossible—swim to the next island where a cache of heroin awaits, or die trying. When alliances form, betrayal is inevitable. As the fight to survive intensifies, the stakes reach terrifying heights—and their captors’ motives finally begin to emerge.

A small group of unlucky souls are gathered up and deposited on an island, told with directions to go to the next adjourning land by crossing the dangerous inlets so they can receive their new doses of heroine, food and other essential goodies. They have to figure out how to work together - or work apart - to survive and get that next fix and avoid being shark bait.

Several of my friends have been reading this one, reviewing it highly, so I was happy to dive in - plus, Sharks? We are so fascinated by the swimming predators still. I blame JAWS.

These chompers aren't great whites, but it doesn't matter since a scary shark is a scary shark. The group have addiction and downward spiral in common. They've all hit rock bottom and done the nasty to survive there, which the men who are puppeteers know. Both groups are interesting. I can't warm up to killers who want to watch victims being torn apart by killer sea creatures, of course, but the villainous motivation is a plausible one that's not shallow. Drug addiction doesn't deliver the friendliness trait but some of victims have compassion while others just lack it.

The book is short - would have liked an even longer water romp - but it delivered the goods in a fast paced and hard to put down story. There's some mini flashbacks to give a show of who the characters are and how they ended up in this mess, which was needed to keep the book's characters three-dimensional. There's not a huge mystery as it's easy for them to figure out what's going on, but they have to depend on timing, plans and each other to see if they can survive this one.

I won't say whether anyone survived, but the ending was a nice conclusion and it leaves with that dangling hook on what will come next. Not a cliffhanger, but something to ponder.

Fast-paced and intriguing, this is a shark book cut above the rest, focusing on the group of heroin addicts more than just a B-fest killer shark rush. There's more than a few sharks munching - there's social stigma pondering, the banes of addiction and the merits of those struggling with it, a few creepy and suspenseful parts in the water (always a scary setting in itself). Suspense fans should definitely hunt this one down - it's a keeper.

An honest review has been dished out after receiving this book from the author