Reef Dance

J. Shepard Mysteries (Volume 1)

John Decure

Minotaur Books

There is a certain poise that comes with understanding the ocean's moods, tapping a pulse borne of a distinct, untamed, unfathomable energy source. An equilibrium, located on a singular track between the sucking trough and the pitching crest. A sense of perfect balance on a rolling, temporary stage, not a single movement wasted. A spray-blinded late takeoff in roaring Santa Ana winds. A confidence, knowing your instincts won't let you down.

Thirteen years ago J. Shepard's mother rose before dawn, packed a bag and walked out of his life forever. Since then, the rolling surf has been his only escape, a refuge from the daily stress of his job defending parents in the overburdened L.A. juvenile dependency court, and from the dark, unanswered questions of his past. When J. is assigned a high profile case, one in which a mother is accused of selling her child to the highest bidder, even a day in the surf won't let him escape. J. can't hide from the media attention that the case draws, and nor can he hide from the painful memories of his own desertion that the case congers. He realizes that if he does not confront the mystery of his own past he will always be stuck in equilibrium, unable to move against his emotional and physical tide. He will be stuck in the darkest spot in the ocean, the reef dance.

J. simultaneously throws himself into the case and search for the reasons behind his own mother's disappearance. In order to succeed in both areas, however, he must rely on an old friend, Jackie Pace, a wayward surfing legend with a sordid past, that no one believes is reliable. But J. needs his friends help, and Jackie must rise to the challenge not just because he is J.'s friend but because he is much more intimately linked to the mystery than J. could ever know.

Reef Dance will suck you into the surfer's pacific, pulling you deep within it's mystery, and the turmoil of one man's soul.


Read an Excerpt

Sigmund Freud didn’t surf. Of this I was certain.
Such was the nature of my distraction on this particular morning. I could hardly focus on the Madden case—my last one of the day, thank God. Instead, my mind’s eye continuously replayed the splendid barrel I’d tapped into last night at the pier just before dark. I set down the file and sighed, feeling the surge of rolling sea beneath my feet, the breathlessness coming back. Stroking deep and with great purpose, adrenalized, my surfboard’s speed matching the rushing peak as I slide to my feet, descending in


Praise for Reef Dance

"A good story well told by a promising newcomer."--Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • John Decure

  • John DeCure is a writer familiar with both of the worlds that Reef Dance explores. He has been surfing since the early 1970's and has written for Surfer Magazine and the Surfer's Journal. In his first job as an attorney, he spent two years defending parents and children in juvenile dependency court. He is currently a prosecutor with the State Attorney General.
    A second-generation Californian, John lives in West Los Angeles with his wife and their small son. This is his first novel.





    Available Formats and Book Details

    Reef Dance

    J. Shepard Mysteries

    John Decure

    • e-Book



    Minotaur Books