A Watery Grave Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Watery Grave

St. Martin's, Oct 2004, 23.95, 288 pp.
ISBN: 0312334419

In 1838 Norfolk, someone takes a shot at half Maori William “Wiki” Coffin, Jr. before fleeing the area. Wiki next sees the corpse of a woman in his boat. The Sheriff arrests Wiki for murdering Mrs. Tristam Stanton, wife of the expedition's astronomer. However, not long afterward, the Sheriff frees the “darkie” though he has no papers. Instead he believes that the killer is on the ship the Ex. Ex. already sailing on an exploration expedition in the South Seas. Since Wiki is a linguist with the expedition, the Sheriff asks him to investigate the murder on board the vessel.
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As Wiki catches up to the ship, he also begins making inquiries. However, he finds the crew's bias towards his race and national origin makes it difficult to obtain answers as well as delineate who is simply a bigot from a killer. Still, Wiki persists even as the ship is wracked with blunders, confusion, and dangerous decisions that almost sinks the effort before reaching the destination let alone solve a homicide.

This is a terrific historical mystery with the emphasis on real events and relationships circa 1838.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of A Watery Grave

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 10% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues Time/era of story:    -   1600-1899 What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   70% Kind of investigator    -   amateur citizen investigator Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   minority/women/gay rights Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   navy soldier Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Race    -   Black


Ice Caps/Sea?    -   Yes Where?    -   Ocean

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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