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Castle Reef

Castle Reef book cover


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Book Review

Julie Kerrig’s life was shaken by her father’s tragic death. But now a series of mysterious events in her small coastal town will challenge both her policing skills and her faith.

Plot Summary

When John Kerrig was swept off the deck of a small fishing boat and tragically lost at sea during a storm, it not only ended his life; it crippled that of his daughter.

Not only did that loss leave a massive emotional hole in Julie Kerrig’s world, but it wounded her so deeply that she turned her back on both God and her fiancé, Trent. It was like she couldn’t embrace anything she once loved.

And then, in an odd turn of events, Julie was promoted into her father’s former position as chief of police of their little coastal town of Castle Reef.

Perhaps that proffered position was a sympathy promotion. But whatever it was, it was also something of a lifesaver for Julie. Her dad had brought her into the law enforcement community. He had trained her up well. And she was good at it. Now that she had the role of chief, she threw herself into the job with all the passion she could muster. It was a healing passion.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Julie is whole again. Far from it. Nor does it mean that she’s free from terrible events in her life. For very strange things have begun happening in Castle Reef.

First there was the shark attack … that wasn’t. A massive, finned beast killed an elderly swimmer early one morning, then bit off the leg of another beachgoer later that day. Scores of witnesses saw the latter attack.

But the local coroner is convinced that the bite marks couldn’t have been that of a shark.

Then a strange man shows up in town. He has electric blue eyes and an aura about him that causes people to feel almost seasick when they get too close. This fellow shows up asking questions and causing havoc. He’s suspected of ransacking a local fishing boat. And he might be involved in something much, much worse.

These and other things all seem to be landing at Julie’s doorstep all at once. And there are hints that they may not be random or accidental.

It’s too bad that Julie has lost or pushed away everything that she had once relied on. Everything she might have called a foundation. For it looks like she won’t be able to navigate this coming storm with policing skills alone.

That’s a lesson her dad once learned, too.

Christian Beliefs

Julie, her police dispatcher Shirley and fiancé Trent are all Christians. And we hear all of them referring to their faith or praying for God’s help during stressful moments.

Julie turned her back on God after her father’s death, but her father’s written encouragements help her find a way back to belief. She asks God to forgive her for her anger and asks the Holy Spirit to give her clarity of mind and objectivity to examine the facts of the case she’s involved in. Julie also recalls Scriptures she memorized as a young girl—verses that help calm her and ease her stress.

A local pastor has solid words of encouragement for those who are suffering because of the attacks in Castle Reef.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Julie recalls lessons that her dad taught her—pointers for wise police work and for a wise life. On the life front, those lessons generally focus on her need to rely on Jesus.

Julie also relies on the wisdom and words of an elderly woman named Shirley who mans the dispatch center at the local police station. Shirley always has a kind and comforting word. “God has a way of turning our darkest moments into something beautiful,” she tells Julie. And we later learn that this woman had an important role in Julie’s life that the younger woman wasn’t aware of.

Though Julie rejected Trent, her fiancé, after Julie’s father died, Trent remains consistent. He’s given her the emotional space she demanded, but he has always been ready to leap to her aid if she needed it. The two eventually come to understand that they still love one another dearly. And Trent is quick to forgive what some might see as mistreatment on Julie’s part.

Nearly everyone with political clout in and around Castle Reef (and outlying areas) is corrupt (though some people in positions of authority step forward in positive ways by story’s end). We hear of people misusing government money, changing city board meeting notes, influencing the police and manipulating the system. One particular global plot appears to involve a tech-focused terrorist group.

Profanity & Violence

There are several mentions of people “shouting obscenities,” but none of them are spelled out.

Ian, a young lifeguard, gets drunk with his fellow male lifeguards. They stagger around, get into trouble and pass out on the beach. In one instance they get a bit aggressive physically with Julie, but quickly regret their choices as she uses her defensive skills to beat them off and break one guy’s nose.

The town’s mayor and Ian’s wealthy parents are all heavy drinkers, too. Ian’s mother, Janet, tends to regularly get tipsy drinking wine coolers with her housewife friends. And Ian’s father, J.K., drinks himself into a stupor nearly every night. Mayor Willis drinks in his office.

On the violence front, we see a large shark-like creature attack innocents near the local beach. We hear of the bloody outcomes and how one man’s savaged body washed up near a rocky area, but the wounds are not described in detail. That monster also rams a Coastguard boat, causing a rupture in the craft’s hull.

Someone rips doors physically off a house and an apartment and destroys the apartment’s contents. People hide in fear from potential killers. A fishing boat is ransacked and destroyed. A guy shoots up an area, blowing out windows and trying to kill anyone nearby. Several people are grabbed by the throat and held aloft. One is strangled to death. Someone attempts to drown Julie, and very nearly succeeds. There are explosions in the water near Castle Reef. People are pummeled, beaten and kicked in the face.

We hear of a woman who was abused by an adult pedophile when she was a young girl. But because of the man’s position of authority, her parents refused to believe her.

Sexual Content

Julie and Trent hug and kiss. Ian is renowned for his sexual trysts with the local teen girls. He and his buds plan to have a drunken party with some local women, but the females never show up. The guys drunkenly turn their sights on the pretty Julie. We hear of a girl who, at 14, became pregnant out of wedlock and gave birth in a home for single women.

Discussion Topics


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Additional Comments

Castle Reef tells a story of mysterious happenings and corrupt political maneuverings, and its characters study and deal with those events through a lens of faith.

Parents of younger readers should note, however, that there are bloody moments and some sensuality in the story mix—though neither of those elements are ever described in detail.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose