“I don’t really understand it, but somehow, in some impossible way, love reached down inside me, took out all the old and dirty—the scars and the stains that no soap anywhere would ever wash out. And love didn’t just clean me but made me new.”—Charles Martin, The Water Keeper
Author Charles Martin has a powerful way of sharing his faith that touches my soul. The Water Keeper is a story of God’s love encased in an action novel, and if you haven’t read it yet, you’ll want to.
Retired priest Murphy Shepherd lives alone on an island off the eastern coast of Florida, tending the grounds of a church no one attends. He’s dedicated his life to rescuing those in peril, a mission that has just killed his mentor. His specialty is finding trafficked young girls and leading them from brokenness to freedom. But he won’t be alone for long. He rescues a crafty Labrador retriever who proves to be indispensable and plucks a woman named Summer out of Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway and gets drawn into a hunt after a gang of international human traffickers as they desperately try to find her missing daughter.
I read The Water Keeper while vacationing in Florida, and it was fun to learn more about the state (I’m already planning a trip to Key Largo thanks to the book). It was a page-turner, but that’s not what drew me into the story. Martin’s novel is about the life-changing love of God and how we are put on this earth to save each other. “We don’t love because people love us back. We love because we can. Because we were made to. Because it’s all we have. Because, at the end of the day, evil can take everything save one thing: your love. And when you come to realize that, that the only thing you really control in this life is your love, you’ll see, maybe for the first time, that we’re all just lost.”
Murphy’s Shepherd’s tale is poignantly told, and the plot is interesting, but I took issue with some of the writing. Martin describes places ad nauseum to the point I had to skim paragraphs. I also didn’t connect with the characters as much as I’d hoped. I appreciated the author’s subtle biblical references and allusions to Christianity, but no serious writer should use the word “ginormous” five times in one novel. 4 stars.