In a world packed with John Grisham imitators, Robert Whitlow has always stood out from the legal-thriller crowd with his authentic characters and situations, his compelling moral dilemmas and his welcoming writing style. His early legal thrillers are among some of my favorite books and after pushing his style in his last few offerings, Whitlow returns to form with his latest Water’s Edge.
Tom Crane is an up and coming lawyer in Atlanta until he’s let go by his firm and dumped by his girlfriend (who also keeps his cat) all in the same dead. Heading home to close out his father’s law business, Tom finds himself quickly finds himself caught up in a web of mysteries surrounding the town’s biggest employer and economic savior, a mysterious trust account and the circumstances of his father’s death. He’s also having to fend off the advances of his old girlfriend who married his best friend as well as living with his elderly uncle, who thinks Tom has come home for other things besides closing up his father’s shop.
Water’s Edge is a return to the legal-thriller roots that put Whitlow on the map. And while there isn’t quite the high drama that we saw with novels like The List, Water’s Edge is easily the most compelling and page-turning Whitlow novel I’ve picked up in a long time. Part of that is Whitlow’s comfort in his storytelling. But another part of it (and it’s always been a big one for Whitlow) is his creation of authentic Christian characters within his story. With Tom, Whitlow shows us the journey Tom undergoes towards becoming a Christian, but unlike others in the contemporary Christian field, the journey never feels one-note or cliched. When Tom makes his decision, his life doesn’t become instantly a bed of roses and his decision doesn’t solve all his problems. Instead, Tom continues to struggle with things and has early doubts about things, people and situations.
Water’s Edge is Whitlow at his best. It’s among the best novels I’ve read this year–compelling, page-turning and it may even cause you to do a little thinking about something greater than just the drama unfolding on the page.