“Tales from the Deep” by Diane Vallere is the first book in the “Mermaid Mystery” series. Zoe, Kyra, and Ava are three mermaid sisters from Sirenia, one of many mermaid colonies across the ocean run by strong female Mer-Mothers. Mermaids are the royalty of the ocean, peaceful, beautiful, elegant, and intuitive. This is Zoe’s coming of age story, “I want my own role,” and the story continues in her first person narrative.
Zoe is well read, “I’d read about it in books from the Library Under the Sea.” She also expounds her life philosophy; “There are times when we need to accept our actions and stand behind them, whether they were condoned or not.” She talks directly to readers, discussing what she thinks about things, “The human world was very inconvenient;” describing what she does, “You already know what I did. I swam closer;” sharing what she sees, “I peeked over the side of the shipwreck. I spied a diver.” However, she saw much more than just a diver, “blood came from the body lying on the ocean floor next to the diver’s foot.”
In her search for answers, she meets Seth, a police diver, and together they seek information about the death. The more Zoe searches for answers, the more questions she has, including concerns about Seth’s involvement in the mystery.
Capitalism is alive and well on the ocean floor. Mad Midge runs the local emporium. “She was financially secure. Anything else she sold was extra, though that didn’t stop her from stocking unusual items to attract people to her stand at the weekly market.”
“Tales from the Deep” is an altogether fun book to read. It has all the usual components of cozy mystery, a dead body, police, clues, ill-gotten gain, revenge, and greed, but all under water. “‘That’s the thing about dark waters,’ he said. ‘You can’t tell what’s lurking in them.’“ The action is understated, but readers of crime fiction will enjoy reading it and taking a break from headache- inducing stress of other books. It is interesting, fun, and still suspenseful. It might be a fun kids’ movie musical, except the underlying crime and murder do not really encourage protagonists and mermaids to break out in song. Of course, my opinion might have been influenced by the three-year old twins who were watching “The Little Mermaid” DVD while I read the book, but it’s all good.