Set in the Nevada desert at the time of the Great Depression, Waterborne is a captivating look at the early years of the Boulder Dam Project, a beacon of hope to those struggling to overcome poverty and despair. Fillius Poe, Lena McCardell, and Lew Beck are drawn to the site in search of new beginnings. Mr. Murkoff skillfully uses a series of flashbacks to develop his characters.
Fillius Poe had everything in life, but has lost it all by the time he begins his new job as chief engineer for the dam. Struggling to survive his greatest loss, he hopes twenty-hour workdays and his ability to mold steel and move rivers will be enough to sustain him. A quiet man, he writes daily letters to a wife and son he describes to Lena as “not with me anymore.”
Lena McCardell has also come to Boulder City to make a new start for herself and her eight-year-old son, Burr. As her friendship with Fillius grows into something more, she must fight the advances of Lew Beck, an embittered drifter, who sees her as the healing balm for a lifetime of anti-Semitism and cruel taunts about his small size. When she rejects him, he becomes determined to have his revenge. The story culminates at the edge of the dam high above the raging waters of the Colorado River.
This well-researched and well-written debut novel leaves you hoping Mr. Murkoff is busy writing another one.