Monday, May 20, 2019

Deep Storm

Deep Storm
by Lincoln Child
Recommended Ages: 14+

Lately, I've been doing a lot of that thing I've always tried to avoid – starting long series of books in the middle or toward the end. So, this first book in the Dr. Jeremy Logan series is actually the third installment that I've read. It was therefore interesting to discover that, while this is Book 1 of 5 featuring him, he only appears briefly and in a supporting role. Apparently, the idea of Jeremy, a Yale history prof who is so open-minded about unexplained phenomena that he's been stuck with the epithet "enigmalogist," caught fire in his creator's mind, and he got promoted to central protagonist of a whole series of books. So, for those like me who joined the storyline late and went backwards, it's a bit of a surprise to find out that the hero is a guy named Peter Crane, a medical doctor with experience dealing with the maladies of U.S. Navy personnel on highly classified submarine missions. You have to admit, though, that other than the bit where Jeremy's skill set comes in handy, this creepy, paranoid, otherworldly thriller set deep beneath the ocean is rather in Peter's wheelhouse.

No one will tell him what the job is really about when he arrives at the oil drilling platform off the coast of Iceland. After signing wads of paper swearing him to secrecy, Crane descends thousands of feet to a super-secret research facility where even the highly skilled scientific experts are only 50 percent trusted to know what's going on. Actually, that's probably a high figure. At first, even Peter isn't given much information about the medical mystery he has been hired to solve. Whatever is going on past the checkpoint where anyone without the proper clearance will be shot, it has some military guys seriously hot and bothered. Nevertheless, things seem to be falling apart, medically and psychologically, for a lot of people at once. Eventually, Peter learns that what the facility is excavating out of the sea floor isn't the lost city of Atlantis, as he was originally allowed to think, but something far deeper, far stranger – and, ironically, far less ancient. In fact, there is a written record of an eyewitness to its arrival (hence Jeremy's involvement). What could this technology from above the heavens, until now lying silently below the earth's crust, possibly do? Why has it awakened now? And what, the military guys wonder, could the U.S. of A. do with it?

Peter and the people he trusts grow increasingly certain that whatever it is must be left alone. But they're up against some dangerously loony folks, at least one of whom isn't above a little murder. What bubbles out is an intense chiller-thriller, haunted by an interesting combination of our oldest, darkest fears. If the thought of what came from above doesn't make you shudder, just think about what lies below in the crushing darkness, and what it might be used for, and what it would do if it were ever unleashed. And then consider this: because there is no Dr. Peter Crane series, how do you know the hero is going to make it? You don't, do you? Am I going to tell you? Nuh-uh. Enjoy your all-night cringe-fest, with a healthy-sized portion of heartbeat-quickening action and an ending that will leave you wondering whether you should call the President for a heart-to-heart, just on the off-chance it's all true. Ha, ha! I'm laughing at you. But also, I'm adding "deep sea exploration" to my list of experiences I hope never to check off. Because it pays to be mentally prepared.

In case you haven't read my other Lincoln Child reviews, he's the co-author with Douglas Preston of almost 20 "Agent Pendergast" novels. I believe I read the first book, The Relic, back when it was the only one (like, 1995), and found it super-creepy; I also remember seeing a movie based on it. Child's other Jeremy Logan books include Terminal Freeze, The Third Gate, The Forgotten Room and Full Wolf Moon, while his other solo titles are Utopia and Death Match. Books by the pair of them also include Gideon's Sword, Old Bones and The Ice Limit, among many others.

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