|Author||James Patterson & Howard Roughan|
|June 10, 2008|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Pages||400 pp (first edition, hardback)|
A tuna is caught in the Bahamas. Inside the tuna is a Coca-Cola bottle with a note inside stating the Dunnes are alive. The book flashes back to the beginning as the Dunnes are about to set off on a two-month boat trip, a trip that hopefully will bring them closer together, despite the fact that the stepfather, Peter, is staying behind on land. Katherine, a heart surgeon from New York City had lost her first husband, Stuart, a stock investor in a boating trip several years ago.
But only an hour into the trip they're already falling apart. The teenage daughter Carrie plans to drown herself, and the teenage boy Mark is high on drugs. Ten-year-old Ernie is near catatonic. But their mother Katherine, with the help of her brother-in-law Jake, is insistent on pulling everyone together, once and for all. Just when things start to take a turn for the better, disaster strikes. A storm hits the sailboat. To make matters worse the boat explodes. The boat vanishes without a trace and the family are lost, presumed dead - until now, when a message in a bottle is found. It becomes apparent that there must have been at least one survivor. Who has survived and just what happened to the boat? As it transpires there may be more sinister powers at work, the race is on to rescue the family and discover what happened aboard the luxury yacht.
It turns out that Peter has hired a former CIA operative, turned private contract killer, Gerard Devoux, to kill his family. He hopes to inherit the more than 100 million USD that Katherine was worth. Also, Jake dies from wounds with the boat's explosion.
Peter knows his plans to gain the Dunne fortune will be ruined if someone else finds the family. He & Devoux set out the Bahamas to find them and kill them before they are found. Peter is a licensed pilot and rents an airplane to find them. He discovers that the family washed ashore an empty island. That night he sneaks onto the island, he plans to shoot Katherine first, so she doesn't have to watch her kids die. His plans are interrupted when his stepson Mark hits him over the head, knocking him out.
There is a murder trial but Peter is eventually acquitted. He sues Katherine for defamation and she settles out of court for 16 Million USD. Peter though is betrayed by Devoux and killed.
In typical Patterson style, not everything is as it appears. Throughout the story we discover that Peter was having an affair with a young law student. It turns out that she was working with Devoux and is the one that shot Peter in the gut. Devoux then kills her to ensure there are no loose ends. We discover that she was a high end prostitute from Las Vegas. Devoux gets his at the end from a rogue DEA agent he had tried to kill earlier in the book. It is also revealed that, because of an affair had by Jake and Kate, Ernie is Jake's son.