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Dead in the Water

Book 1, Welcome Back to Scumble River

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


The first book in a brand new series featuring New York Times bestselling author Denise Swanson's beloved Scumble River setting and characters, Dead in the Water is a gripping mystery that won't let you go until you've turned the last page. 

A twister, a kidnapping, and a murder—oh my! Scumble River may never be the same.

For school psychologist Skye Denison, there's certainly no place like home. When a violent tornado devastates her small hometown of Scumble River, she can't see how the community will ever recover—especially since town councilman Zeke Lyons appears to have perished in the twister.

But things get even worse for Skye when her police chief husband, Wally, disappears in the midst of investigating Zeke's death, and evidence arises pointing to foul play. Did Zeke really die in the storm, or was he murdered? And could Wally be next on the criminal's hit list?

From Publishers Weekly

Jul 17, 2017 – Swanson's witty, charming 20th adventure set in Scumble River, Ill., the first in a series reboot that moves the timeline forward to 2017, finds a very pregnant school psychologist Skye Denison-Boyd (who was suffering morning sickness in 2016's Murder of a Cranky Catnapper) and her hunky husband, police chief Wally Boyd, dealing with the aftermath of a devastating tornado. But there's no time to mourn their own losses; Skye's jerk of an uncle, Mayor Dante Leofanti, is bellowing threats at Wally and demanding that he personally perform checks on his cronies' properties. This turns up the body of city councilman Zeke Lyons, whose death doesn't look accident- or tornado-related. But before Wally can delve too far into Zeke's death, his check on an old farmhouse lands him in personal peril. And when Carson Boyd, Wally's Texas millionaire dad, arrives to help, the well-kept secret of Wally's wealthy background becomes another issue. Based on this delightful entry, this cozy series should have a long, bright future.

Customer Reviews

First book in Welcome Back to Scumble River series!

Dead in the Water by Denise Swanson is the first book in the Welcome Back to Scumble River series. Skye Denison-Boyd is at home when violent storms strike the area. Wally rushes home to get Skye into the basement (along with Bingo, the cat) when the tornado sirens ring out there warning. After the storm, they discover that their home is destroyed. Three separate tornadoes struck Scumble River leaving devastation in its wake. The mayor has Wally check on their newest councilman, Zeke Lyons who got separated from his family. Wally finds Zeke dead in the bathroom of his home and knows his death cannot be attributed to the storm. Who took advantage of the tornadoes to wipe out mild mannered Zeke Lyons? Wally has a full plate with a murder investigation, rescuing citizens, the burglaries occurring around town, his limited staff, and a pregnant wife. Wally heads out one afternoon and fails to return. Sergeant Roy Quirk, Wally’s right hand, does not have the staff to hunt for Wally. Skye calls Carson Boyd, Wally’s father, who flies in from Texas to help her. What happened to Wally? Will Caron and Skye be able to find him in time? To find out what happens, pick up a copy of Dead in the Water.

Dead in the Water is the first book in Welcome Back to Scumble River series, but it is actually a continuation of A Scumble River Mystery series (with some changes). This was my first visit to Scumble River, and I had no problem reading Dead in the Water. Ms. Swanson provided the needed history on the main characters. There are quite a few characters mentioned in the beginning (as Skye checks in on family and friends), but it settles down to a manageable level. My rating for Dead in the Water is 4.5 out of 5 stars (I downgraded a little since I accurately solved the mysteries). Dead in the Water is an engaging and entertaining story. It has lively and quirky characters (except the mayor who I hope gets ousted in the upcoming election). I thought the story was easy to read, had a good pace, and just the right amount of humor. The two mysteries were interesting with one being more complicated than the other. I believe many readers will be surprised by the killer’s identity (depends on your sleuthing prowess). I thought the method of murder was clever. The suspense ramps up towards the end of the book which had me up late turning the pages. The ending is sweet and will leave you smiling. I will definitely be reading the next installment in the Welcome Back to Scumble River series.


DEAD IN THE WATER brings back a lot of the Scumble River crew but is updated to reflect modern times. I enjoyed the characters and the mystery. It was easy to imagine the devastation caused by the tornadoes that kick off the story, and I liked the small-town community feeling that becomes evident as the residents work to restore order. Although this book is a continuation of an older series, there's no need to have read the previous books to keep up with what's happening in this one.

Disclosure: I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway.

It’s a 5!

Great plot! Love the addition of the father-in law. As always Mrs Swanson delivers!

Other Books in This Series

Dead in the Water
View in iTunes
  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Mysteries & Thrillers
  • Published: Sep 05, 2017
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc
  • Seller: Sourcebooks, Inc.
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Series: Book 1, Welcome Back to Scumble River
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings