IN SECRET WATERS by Richard Weissmann


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In Weissmann’s debut thriller, a diving expedition for lost diamonds comes up against storms, sharks, and neo-Nazis.

Erik Hazen is a 46-year-old charter-fishing captain who docks his vessel, the Finest Kind, on the shores of Montauk, New York, on Long Island. There’s plenty of adventure (and tragedy) in his past, including exploration of the Andrea Doria wreck, said to be the Mount Everest of diving expeditions. The beautiful Laura Morgan meets him to propose a new dive to that famous, sunken ship; specifically, she wants to recover a cache of diamonds there, which her uncle had hidden away to keep it from falling into Nazi hands. Her motives are pure, however; she works for a foundation seeking to restore stolen wealth to Holocaust victims’ families. So Hazen feels compelled to act, despite his painful memories of his wife’s death on an Andrea Doria dive. He assembles his team of divers and sets out on an exploratory mission, but it turns out that a dark alliance of neo-Nazis and Palestinian terrorists are after the loot, too—and they’re armed to the teeth. Weissmann’s villains are venomously racist and laughably evil, and their presence flattens the narrative into a standard thriller scenario. However, the author manages to wring some tension out of the perilous sea voyage; there’s a great sense of foreboding, for example, when Hazen finds a rotting whale carcass, which is sure to attract great white sharks. The colorful dialogue is full of local expressions (Hazen explains that fishermen call pilot whales “blackfish,” for example), but also clichés, and there’s too much empty talk, including this bland exchange between Hazen and Morgan: “ ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.’ ‘Yes. It was Uncle Carl’s favorite expression.’ ” It might have helped if the author had provided more of a sense of atmosphere during the dives, and deeper descriptions of the shipwrecks. That said, readers looking for a straight-ahead adventure plot may enjoy this novel with an unusual setting.

An occasionally fun thriller, despite simplistic enemies and clunky dialogue.

Pub Date: Nov. 26th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1625501820
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Llumina Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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