When the body of an old man is found floating in a pond by two boys venturing out on their homemade raft, the younger of the two is determined to unravel the mystery behind the man’s death in The Curious Case of Seaman Garber by B. K. Mayo. Before heading back to middle school, eleven-year-old Seth Roberson and his friend, Collin, are making the most out of the summer break. Everything takes an awful turn when they discover the body of an old man identified as Vietnam War veteran Henry Garber, the same man the boys have often seen fishing alone. Determined to uncover the truth about Garber's death, Seth sets out on an investigation that will change his life in more ways than anyone could imagine, as truths about the deceased begin to unravel in bits and pieces.
What begins as a tale of adventure with two young boys having fun with their raft quickly morphs into a gripping, suspenseful mystery that captivates readers through every page. Seth’s journey is propelled by his curiosity about Garber, and his quest for the truth brings him face to face with realities that seem outsized for his age, forcing him to grow throughout the story. B. K. Mayo's superior storytelling skills set this novel apart; it is sprinkled with terrific descriptions, drawing captivating imagery as readers follow the mesmerizing journey of the young hero. Here is one beautifully rendered image: ''The body appeared out of nowhere—a bloated, blotchy mass of human flesh floating facedown, arms and legs splayed like a parachutist in free fall. Only this thing hadn’t come from the sky. It had emerged from the pond like a whale bursting from the depths of the sea. The boys stood frozen, gaping in horror at the grotesque form.'' The vibrant, descriptive prose, the wonderful characterization, and the strong plot are a few of the elements that establish the authority of B. K. Mayo’s writing. The setting is depicted with striking detail, giving readers a strong sense of place. Overall, The Curious Case of Seaman Garber is a fully drawn, nuanced, and balanced tale that is hard to put down.