Jessica Rose’s Review:
Below the Surface is the third and final book of the Code of Silence Series. It wraps up the adventures of the four friends Cooper, Hiro, Gordy, and Lunk. It, as the two books before it, starts off with a bang! But as they try to solve the mystery, the new chapters have even more mysteries in store.
The friends are starting to take the vacation Cooper has been waiting for since the first book – a vacation on his dad’s cabin cruiser, The Getaway! But as Cooper and Gordy launch a prank on a nearby boat Krypto Night, their prank seems to backfire. Trouble starts as soon as Cooper leaves Krypto Night’s deck.
The fear Cooper thought he had buried last year rises up from below the lake’s surface when he goes under. Panic overtakes him, he cannot see, he cannot swim, he cannot sense anything but fear. When it passes, Cooper finds that he almost sunk the inflatable that Gordy was on. Almost dying in a flooded basement must have triggered it, but can Cooper stop it from happening again?
A few minutes later, the owner of the other boat arrives at Krypto Night with his girlfriend, who is holding a camera. Cooper and Gordy get on The Getaway just in time to witness the guy and his girlfriend – whom the friend have dubbed “Superman” and “Pom-Pom” – start arguing. Superman starts the boat’s engine and a flash comes from the water. Is it the camera the girl was holding? Pom-Pom must be in the water. Superman starts driving the boat like a madman, then stops as Cooper blows a horn. Hiro calls the cops, and when they arrive, they ask questions that make the friends think Pom-Pom might have been murdered. But a girl walks up from the beach. Her name is Lynn and she matches the description of Pom-Pom.
Hiro thinks something fishy is going on, and that Lynn was not Pom-Pom. She suspects that Superman – A.K.A Tommy Kryptoski – is lying. That he hurt the girl in the boat … maybe even murdered her.
More strange things happen. Hiro discovers that Kryptoski has a babysitter who might be trying to clean up a mess. Cooper, Gordy, and Lunk think she is crazy, and that her cop intuition is getting over-imaginative. But soon all of them – even Hiro – will have to face their buried fears just below the surface.
Below the Surface has a good lesson, like the other two books in the series. Below the Surface tells how to deal with your fear as the four friends find out, “Fear can be buried… but that doesn’t mean it’s dead.”
Recommended age: Ten and up
Re-readability: Highly re-readable!
Bonita Jewel’s Review:
Vacations were all about having fun – or running from something not so fun. Cooper needed this vacation to be about both. The fact that he was starting high school in a matter of days wasn’t what gnawed at him. Not really. It was something way deeper. Buried. And he intended to keep it there.
The first paragraph in Tim Shoemaker’s Below the Surface sets the stage for excitement and conflict, which drive the plot of this terrific novel. For anyone who has read Code of Silence and Back before Dark, Cooper is now a familiar and loved character, as are his three friends: Gordy, Hiro, and Lunk.
This book has a “final” feel to it, which brings mixed feelings; the four friends are about to start high school. Things are going to change. But at the moment, they are enjoying one final trip together – out on the lake in a renovated cabin cruiser. Determined and almost desperate to manufacture an enjoyable vacation, Cooper heads out with Gordy to perform a prank on a nearby boat. When their activity morphs into witnessing a dangerous, if not deadly, event, Cooper discovers that “something he’d buried months ago wasn’t really dead. And now it was rising from its grave.”
In Below the Surface, author Tim Shoemaker delves into the nuances of fear – the healthy fear that can keep you safe … the hidden fears that lie below the surface … and the overwhelming fear that can paralyze you. He blends an adrenaline-laced plot with deeply dimensional characters to create an unforgettable finale for his Code of Silence series.
Recommended age: 10 +
Re-readability: I plan to reread the series in the upcoming year, this time with my 10-year-old son.