Review: The Stowaway by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth

Title: The Stowaway by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From writer, producer, and actor best known as “Murr” on the hit television shows Impractical Jokers and The Misery Index, James S. Murray, and co-writer Darren Wearmouth, comes The Stowaway, a suspenseful masterpiece that leaves a cruise ship stranded at sea with a serial killer hiding aboard.

Two years ago, Maria Fontana, the head of the Psychology Department at Columbia University, sat on a jury for one of the most depraved cases ever to pass through the hallowed halls of City Hall. Wyatt Butler, an antique watch restorer and alleged serial killer, was portrayed in the courtroom as a brutal monster. But Maria had to make the tough choice. In good conscience, she couldn’t convict him based purely on circumstantial evidence, and her deciding vote set Wyatt Butler free. The media soon outed her as the lone juror and her successful and quaint life was turned upside down. The victims of Wyatt’s ritualistic killings never forgave her either.

Now, she and her family have decided to take a vacation to get away from everything: a two-week-long transatlantic cruise. Nothing, and nobody should be able to bother her there. With her two twins and her fiancé Steve, she is set to put the past behind her as soon as the ship leaves port. But when a passenger mysteriously disappears, Maria is left to wonder if maybe this was no coincidence. When another passenger is discovered brutally murdered in a similar way to Butler’s ritualistic MO, the ship goes on lockdown.

Maria, one of only twelve people in the world with intimate knowledge of the case, faces a perilous ticking clock. Is it a copycat? Or is she trapped on board with the bloodthirsty maniac she chose to set free?


The Stowaway by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth is a fast-moving mystery with plenty of tension.

Psychologist Maria Fontana is a juror on the trial of accused serial killer Wyatt Butler.  His murders are particularly gruesome but the prosecution’s case leaves  room for reasonable doubt. The jury is hopelessly deadlocked with eleven jurors voting guilty and one holdout. After the trial ends, Maria returns to her job as the head of psychology at a local college and unexpectedly embarks on a new romance with Steve Brannagan. But the media frenzy and public outrage continue and Maria finally reveals she is the juror who voted not guilty. Due to intense scrutiny, she is encouraged to take a year-long sabbatical from her job and patients.

Right before Maria is due to return to work, she, her now fiancé Steve and her twins are setting out on a transatlantic cruise to Britain. The time away from the public eye has been helpful and she hopes no one will recognize her. After a few slightly paranoid moments, Maria begins to relax and enjoy their vacation. But after a grisly discovery, Maria is certain Butler is on also on board the ocean liner. But will anyone, including Steve, take her fears seriously?

Head of security Jake Reese is used to passenger deaths but he is unprepared for what is about to happen during the voyage. No long after leaving port, he and makes the grim finding in one of the cabins. However, he and Officer Tracy Hendricks do not have the necessary equipment to do much of an investigation.  As the situation on the liner becomes dire, will he capture the perpetrator who is responsible for the increasingly chilling acts of violence?

The Stowaway is a spine-chilling mystery that is full of suspense. The non-stop action keeps the pages turning at a blistering pace. Maria’s experience as a juror is life-altering and she works hard to keep her paranoia at bay during the voyage. Steve is a bit goofy which makes him the perfect foil for Maria’s anxiety. Jake has experience in law enforcement but his investigative options are severely limited. With edge of the seat action and unpredictable plot twists, James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth bring this suspense-laden, nail-biting conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Darren Wearmouth, James S Murray, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense, The Stowaway

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