When I was young I was enchanted by the stories of the great Alistair Maclean. I sailed with Captain Keith Mallory as he and his crew attempted to silence the guns of Navarone, I climbed the heights with Major John Smith as the infiltrated the Schloss Adler fortress in Southern Bavaria and I accompanied Cdr. James Ferraday beneath the ice-floes of the Arctic ocean to locate and rescue the men of weather-station zebra. As I grew older I grew to love the technical brilliance of Tom Clancy and the techno-thriller genius of Michael Crichton. All of these fade into insignificance when I compare them to this astounding novel Submerged by Thomas F Monteleone.
From the opening pages I was totally enthralled by the adventures of submarine U-5001 and its mission to attack the eastern side of the United States. I was equally captivated by Dexter McCauley and his quest to understand the fate of U-5001. KptLt Eric Bruchner has been charged with the task of striking the eastern United States with a secret weapon. He is a man of immense charisma, charm and intellect and well respected by the members of his crew, and we sail with him as he sets course on a perilous and dangerous mission.
As the story developed I could feel the tension and fear within this floating coffin as Bruckner attempts to steer a safe course and avoid the constant attacks by enemy aircraft. “There was a curious groaning of the bulkheads as the steel ribs of the hull absorbed their first encounter with ocean pressure. It was normal on a new boat to hear such sounds but they never failed to get everyone’s attention. As if the deck could grow more quiet. Then the silence was pierced by an abrupt series of concussions. The shockwave rattled the boat, but far less severely than Eric had ever experienced”....”No one spoke as the floor beneath them gradually levelled out. Everyone exhaled at the same time. No U-boat crewman would ever lie so poorly to swear he felt comfortable when the bubble –indicator told you the nose of your boat was pointed at the bottom.” The closest comparison is probably is probably Wolfgang Peterson’s 1981 masterpiece “Das Boot” The claustrophobic world of a German u-boat with its periods of boredom and sheer terror.
We move forward to the present and Dex McCauley is overseeing a dive in Chesapeake Bay with a group of fellow enthusiasts affectionately known as The Deep Six. They encounter the hull of U-5001 and as they explore the ghostly corridors of the sunken sub they make a discovery “At the same time, Tommy’s light touched the fuselage of a plane painted in green and gray camo.......Looks like we’ve got a light-to-medium bomber in here. Seaplane.” So what is the purpose of a small plane attached to the submarine’s fuselage? And why has a seemingly intact vessel been ditched at the bottom of the ocean?
Bruckner is suddenly presented with new orders and has to divert on a rescue and recovery operation to station one eleven located under the Greenland Shelf. Why have KptLt Bruckner and his crew been diverted from their original objective, and will they still be expected to carry out the attack?
The author does a wonderful job of presenting the two storylines in a most thrilling and frightening fashion. The tension within the submarine is unbearable and the sudden alteration to the mission throws the story and the readers expectations into chaos. Meanwhile, in the present, Dex is faced with his own challenges when a series of events occurs that results in him being the subject of attention that threatens the very lives of him and his crew.
In the final chapters there is a race by the American authorities and a shadowy group known as The Guild to discover the secrets of the Nazi stronghold and the scientific projects carried out at station one eleven. There are surprising revelations and a most unexpected appearance before the story ends in an explosive finale.
This is probably one of the most exciting adventure stories I have ever read with a very well presented past and present timeline, engaging believable characters, and a well researched story with hidden Lovecraftian overtones. It is always good to discover a new author and I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.