By Thomas F. Monteleone
Publisher: Samhain Publications
Pub. Date: March 1, 2016
Rating: 3 &1/2 out of 4 stars
Monteleone’s novel is a tasty combination of Ken Follett and Clive Cussler. If one is into submarines, like yours truly, then you should be quite happy. There will be plenty of entertainment for you. Scenes of naval strategy abound in the 1945 narration. As for present day, we get a lot of underwater excitement as the divers discover and explore the remains of the submarine. And through all this we get a mystery. What happened to the submarine and its crew? What is found in the wreck and what potential does it have to change the world? There is plenty of suspense and fun available in these pages.
But there is a wrinkle in the story. Bruckner’s mission journeys into H. P. Lovecraft territory. It is both a promising twist and a dampener to my enthusiasm. I love Lovecraftian fiction almost as much as I love submarines. But in that realm of the plot, there is more promise than delivery. The story isn’t sure whether it wants to be a weird tale or a thriller. It tries to be both and by doing so it weakens both elements. The author is quite good at describing the strange landscape that the submariners find themselves in but it never really takes off. At best it is secondary to the central plot and at worst, it is a teaser for a possible sequel.
So the best thing going for this novel is that it is an intelligent and exciting techno/military thriller of the Follett or Clancy variety. The characters are a strong point, especially the ex-diver Dexter and the U-Boat commander Bruckner. Yet despite the author’s prodigious skills at telling a story, it goes off the track a bit. The Lovecraftian elements are slight to say the least. It may be a matter of expectations. Although promoted as horror, it barely fills the bill. Perhaps if it was promoted as a thriller, that would have been more accurate. It probably would have gotten this book to the audience it deserves. But even if it takes a few missteps, it is still a very enjoyable novel and is recommended to those who dig maritime centered suspense.