Book Summary (Amazon): Murphy Shepherd is a man with many secrets. He lives alone on an island, tending the grounds of a church with no parishioners, and he’s dedicated his life to rescuing those in peril. But as he mourns the loss of his mentor and friend, Murph himself may be more lost than he realizes.
When he pulls a beautiful woman named Summer out of Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway, Murph’s mission to lay his mentor to rest at the end of the world takes a dangerous turn. Drawn to Summer, and desperate to find her missing daughter, Murph is pulled deeper and deeper into the dark and dangerous world of modern-day slavery.
With help from some unexpected new friends, including a faithful Labrador he plucks from the ocean and an ex-convict named Clay, Murph must race against the clock to locate the girl before he is consumed by the secrets of his past—and the ghosts who tried to bury them.
My thoughts...I just finished this book last night and wow...Charles Martin has left me with questions and thoughts that I'll continue pondering for a while. The Water Keeper is a complex and multi-layered story, combining action, danger, romance, love, and redemption. At its center is the parable of the lost sheep. "Tell me what you know about sheep..." is asked of the main character, Murphy Shepherd, more than once. "Sheep need a shepherd..." is his reply. "Murph"'s calling is to leave the 99 to search for the 1...the 1 lost sheep. It's not only his calling, but he is willing to lay down his life for the 1, often putting himself in danger to try to save men, women and children from the horrors of human trafficking while also battling his own personal devastating heartbreak. Spirituality is woven into every aspect of this novel, in an allegorical style. The novel is told from Murph's first person perspective, which adds to the complexity, yet I couldn't imagine it written any other way. Martin has a way of giving you just enough of the story to keep you fully engaged, yet there is a lot that lies below the surface that you either have to figure out for yourself, or accept that you may not completely know all of the answers. Beyond all of these aspects of the novel, I loved Murph's character. Strong, lethal, yet so vulnerable and longing to love and be loved. I also appreciated the variety of "sheep" that come into his care: an elderly ex-convict, a loyal pet, two young girls, and a woman who is in search of her daughter. I feel like I need to read this book again someday to fully digest it all. And there definitely needs to be a sequel!
One of my favorite podcasts, "That Sounds Fun" with Annie F. Downs, has two interviews with Charles Martin. I would highly recommend them. To hear the heart of this author, his love for God and writing, is really special.
**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to share my honest opinions, which I did.**