Dead in the Water Lib/E: My Forty-Year Search for My Brother's Killer

By Tess Gallagher

642 ratings - 4.16* vote

In this shocking, heart-wrenching true-crime drama, a forty-year-old double murder brings together a grieving family and two brothers-just kids when they witnessed their father commit the brutal act-to track down a psychopath once suspected as being the Golden State KillerIn 1978, two tortured corpses were discovered in the sea off Guatemala. Hooded, bound with ropes and w In this shocking, heart-wrenching true-crime drama, a forty-year-old double murder brings together a grieving family and

... more

Book details

Audio CD, 0 pages
April 3rd 2019 by Blackstone Publishing

(first published August 9th 2018)

Original Title
Dead in the Water
198263989X (ISBN13: 9781982639891)

Community Reviews

Valerity (Val)

Dead in the Water: My Forty-Year Search for My Brother's Killer

This is the new edition which has been updated for the US release. I read the original UK edition in August 2018 and you can find my original review for the first book below-

I recommend this for real true crime readers as it is well written and researched since the author is an experienced journalist. Meet Penny and learn of her family's decades-long heartbreak and grief behind this incredible tale. Besides this being such a riveting story to follow, although gritty at points, there are still some things happening in regards to the story and you will find them added in this new edition. I don’t give many books 5 stars, so that’s saying something I hope. Thanks to NetGalley and especially to Penny Farmer along with the publisher for the eARC copy.

Also on my BookZone blog:

Valerity (Val)

his was an incredible read that I just couldn’t stop until I finished. Author Penny Farmer and her family had such a wrenching loss when her 25-year-old new doctor brother Chris, and his lawyer girlfriend, 24-year-old Peta Frampton, from Manchester UK were tortured and killed in 1978. They loved to travel and had chosen to take a year off from studies and see the world. While on their trip they were good about calling and Peta wrote very long letters that she mailed when she got the chance. When a long period went by without word from either one of them, their families knew something was very wrong.

The parents reported the couple missing in Belize after getting Peta’s last letter saying that’s where they’d been and waited for any kind of word from authorities. Not knowing was the hardest thing, and everyone was on edge waiting to find something out about what happened to them. But back then it was so difficult to get information from other countries, especially when they’d been traveling on someone’s private boat. Penny’s parents did all they could though, making calls to anyone they thought could get somewhere. Her father found out that two European bodies were found floating in the sea near Guatemala, tied to heavy metal parts and were recovered in roughly the area that the missing pair had been reported missing. They were eventually identified by dental records as Chris and Peta and the wondering turned to devastation and shock.

This book is about the nearly 40 years it took for the families to get any kind of justice on the murders, as the person responsible seemed to have an uncanny kind of luck when it came to getting away with his crimes. Its an astonishing story with so many twists and turns that I was up all night reading it. Extremely moving, and for me, heartfelt, as I felt such a bond and connection having lost a brother too at a similar age, my only sibling…under awful circumstances in his late 20’s. I was in tears for the family by the third chapter, and cried for them all the way through. I know the pain and it’s enduring power. I’m so impressed by their strength and all they did to bring about the resolution they did get.

This is an amazing book, hard to read at times though how sadistic this killer was.. I lost my place and I grimaced at having to go back through the bad parts again to find where I’d left off. Reading it once was bad enough! Then I imagined how the families felt learning how their loved ones endured that and having nightmares about it afterward and my heart goes out to them. The least I can do is read about it. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by author Penny Farmer, and the publisher for my fair review.


Well, they do say that the truth is stranger than fiction; this book tends to verify that as we journey with one family through a rollercoaster of emotions and their journey to find out the truth once and for all. Penny Farmer's brother Chris was left for dead alongside girlfriend Peta in 1978 off the coast of Guatemala. This book examines the impact of the tragedy on his family and the manhunt for a psychopathic killer who took a sick pleasure from torturing his victims before discarding them like trash. Penny tells the story with heart, hope and sometimes hopelessness.

However, there was quite a lot of repetition throughout, which meant my overall enjoyment waned in places and I found the pace was a little hit and miss. There is no doubt that what his family have been through is a brutal, harrowing and heartbreakingly awful time being privy to the police incompetence and subsequent closing of the case without a conviction as although they had a suspect they simply couldn't prove his guilt due to a lack of evidence. I am so glad they now have closure, however, that is the only silver lining to arise from such a hellish scenario. This is a great read for those interested in true crime.

Many thanks to Diversion Books for an ARC.


When Chris Farmer and his girlfriend Peta Frampton went missing in the late 70's, their families were desperate to know where they were. Chris and Peta kept in them informed as to their activities and experiences through letters and cassette tapes but when they suddenly stopped, unease grew.

In 1978, 2 tortured corpses were discovered in the sea off Guatemala, hooded, bound with ropes and weighed down with engine parts, were these the bodies of the missing couple?

What follows is the, almost, 4 DECADE search for the truth. Penny Farmer continued the dogged investigation, started by her parents and from where her father left off when he passed away, to uncover the truth of what happened to them.

Chris and Peta's last known location was on a boat, owned and captained by Silas Duane Boston, an American who, along with his 2 young sons, sailed around Central America, picking up passengers and following the whim of Silas, a horrible, violent and odious man who believed he was above others and his actions had no consequence.

This is a fascinating and immersive story, the passion and resilience of Penny, her family and the family of Peta, not to mention the detectives involved is breathtaking. The hurdles they had to jump and the wait for answers is heatbreaking at times but they stayed their course and hoped for justice.

I love true crime books, we hear a lot about the perpetrators of these crimes but hear less from survivors and families of the victims so when I see a book like this I have to pick it up to see the love, passion and, hopefully, justice being served. This harrowing story is a must read for true crime fans as it shows the obstacles they had to overcome when trying to find answers and, ultimately, the truth.

*Huge thanks to Penny Farmer, Diversion Books and NetGalley for this copy which I chose to read and all opinions are my own*

Jessica Berry

This is a true crime book, told from the perspective of the sister of one of the victims. After being let down by the authorities, Penny Farmer spends decades hunting down the person (or persons) who murdered her brother and his girlfriend. With a plot like that, and with such a gorgeous book cover and title font, this book promised to please my true crime sweet spot.

I have to be honest in this review, as much as it pains me given the sensitive nature of this story. In a nutshell, the writing did not do this story justice. Maybe, similar to "a lawyer representing himself has a fool for a client", an author shouldn't write something so personal without some serious, unbiased editing.

I'll start with the positives, because there really were great aspects of this book.

I like how the author pays respect to both her late brother and his longtime girlfriend. It's probably easy and natural to just focus on the blood relative who's been murdered, but Penny Farmer made sure to tell both victims' stories.

And although the subject matter is depressing, it's neat that the author was able to use the girlfriend's detailed letters to her family to put together a timeline with the authorities. It would have been even better if those letters could have been scanned in and copied right into the book, but they weren't.

Also, I love how this case was just waiting for modern technology to come around and solve it, although the length of time for which this case was cold is heartbreaking.

Here's what I really didn't like.

I feel that sometimes the author jumps around a bit too much, and some of her paragraphs have sentences that don't exactly blend well, but overall, I think some more detailed chapter titles and sub-headings would have done this book a service. Instead, the author used nautical-themed headings in an attempt to be abstract or poetic, which doesn't work for such a factual, detail-oriented book like this.

The use of explanation marks was ridiculous.

She also introduces facts way before she actually describes them, which is confusing. And when she meets certain people that she's been waiting decades to meet, she doesn't describe it for the reader in a way that makes it interesting. So throughout the whole book I'm wondering if she will ever meet certain people in real life or through video chat, she finally does, and she barely describes how it felt. What a wasted opportunity to allow the reader connect to this story on another emotional level.

Basically, the author the fails at finding a balance between suspenseful build up and factual retelling.

I found this nonfiction book to be more interesting, but less suspenseful, than I'd predicted. I give it 3 stars because I didn't remain riveted or desperate to finish this book, but I did enjoy and respect it.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.

Oliver Clarke

A fascinating, gripping and often moving account of a brutal double murder and the impact of that crime on the families of both the victims and the perpetrator.
In 1978, Chris Farmer and his girlfriend Peta Frampton, were murdered whilst travelling in Central America. Although there was a clear suspect in the case, Silas Duane Boston, the American captain of a boat they were travelling on, the crime went unsolved for almost four decades. The book is written by Penny Farmer, sister of Chris, who tracked
Boston down via Facebook in 2015 and, through her determination to see justice
done, got the case reopened.
‘Dead in the Water’ is a really compelling read, and the challenges of the investigation of a 38 year old crime by police forces from more than one country are skilfully described. What really comes across is the vast cultural differences that exist between 1978 and the present day. At the time Chris and Peta’s families relies in intermittent letters for updates on the couple’s travels and the agony of waiting for more information when it becomes clear that something is wrong is palpable.
Also fascinating is the role that Boston’s sons play in the story, the stark contrast between the two main family units in the book is subtly brought across, but very impactful.
Boston was a suspect in the Golden State Killer crimes that were the subject of Michelle McNamara’s book ‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark’ and ‘Dead in the Water’ serves as an interesting companion piece to that book. Farmer’s prose isn’t always as immediate as McNamara’s, but ‘Dead in the Water’ is a better structured and paced book, with a passion and emotion that hook the reader again and again.
It’s a brave and very personal account, and all the better for that. Farmer doesn’t spare any detail in her description of the crime, or the terrible impact that it had on her family. Her tenacity and drive are quite inspirational, and the love she and her family felt for Chris is clear on every page. I couldn’t put it down and am very glad to have read it.


How many more criminals are alive who should be locked up but are not due to police incompetence? Hard to put down and i was moved to tears on many occasions. There is undoubted risk in traveling the World but we should be able to trust the police to at lease follow leads and information. Sadly my recent experience of ask8ng the police for help is that,like water, they take the path of least resistance to make their lives easy.

How many more criminals are alive who should be locked up but are not due to police incompetence? Hard to put down and i was moved to tears on many occasions. There is undoubted risk in traveling the World but we should be able to trust the police to at least follow leads and information. Sadly my recent experience of asking the police for help is that,like water, they take the path of least resistance to make their lives easy.

Sharon Gregory

A story to be told

Saw Penny's interview on This morning wanted to know the full details so downloaded the book read in one sitting. Heartbreaking and thoughtful that some people are fated to pack such a lot into their short lives they're passion for travel and experiences was consuming in a time where trust was openly given the wrong person .This is a tale of Facebook being used for the good. Interesting read


title: Dead In The Water
Author : Penny Farmer
Genre: Nonfiction- true crime
Netgalley ARC
pages 288
Book synopsis
In July 1978, two bodies were discovered in the sea off Guatemala. They were found to be the remains of Chris Farmer and his girlfriend Peta Frampton, two young British graduates. Having been beaten and tortured, then thrown, still alive, into the sea, their bodies had been weighted down and dumped from the yacht on which they had been crewing. For nearly forty years, no one was charged with these brutal murders.

This is the shocking and compelling story of how Chris's sister, Penny, and her family tracked down his and Peta's killer. For decades they painstakingly gathered evidence against Silas Boston, the yacht's American owner, working alongside police in the UK and the USA, as well as the FBI, until he was finally arrested and charged with two counts of murder in 2016. Astonishingly, Penny was able to track down Boston's son, whose bravery in testifying against his own father was the key to bringing down Chris and Peta's killer after so many years.

Dead In The Water is the story of a murder almost unimaginable in its cruelty and one ordinary woman's unwavering determination to find justice for her brother.

My thoughts
rating: 5
would I recommend it: yes
Why : because its a story that needs to be read
Feeling mixed emotions right now, sad that it took almost 40 years for this case to be closed and for the families to find out what happened and get the justice for their last ones, but also angry that instead of getting the justice the families deserved the killer took the easy way out and dead of natural causes even if he was in custody, its a story that must be told and read , with that said I want to thank Netgalley for letting me read and review it in exchange for my honest opinion.


For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these “it might have been”
This is a story of one family and their unwillingness to give up finding answers as to why and who killed their son and his girlfriend while they were traveling abroad.
What I cannot fathom about this chilling story is how many people knew and did nothing! And when sons of the killer went to the police on numerous occasions as witnesses to the crime no one listened.
Only when 37/38 years later when also trying to find the golden state killer did this man be put at the top of their list.
I am glad these families (both the sons of the killer; also victims and the families of the deceased)have had closure finally!! It was definitely due time.