Returning from a research dive off the coast of picturesque Carmel-by-the-Sea, marine biologist Chris Black is attacked viciously. No stranger to physical altercations, Chris is able to defend himself and hold one of his assailants captive. He learns that the goon has been sent to intimidate him: Stop diving or else…
Not one to respond well to threats, Chris and his childhood friends Mac Johnson, a former Navy SEAL, and Jase Hamilton, investigator with the Monterey County Sheriff, dive a little deeper. What is it that Chris and his graduate students might have seen on the ocean floor? Is it related to the body that washed up on shore? And how does whatever might be buried under the sea connect to the rich and famous who fund Chris Black’s research projects?
This seemed pretty clichéd to me, mixed with a healthy dose of vicarious living/wishful thinking. The criminals are dumb: “hiding” toxic waste within sight of the shore when it’s well-known marine research takes place there? Not to mention their fondness for smash-and-grab threats with zero subtlety or finesse. Lots of empty rambling and pointless—and poorly concealed—violence. The reader can’t really be expected to believe that criminals this dumb have thrived for decades without a hint of their existence.
Chris himself is likable enough, but I felt like he was based on a bad 80s movie/TV show like Miami Vice: why does a random marine biologist know martial arts and have the ability to take out criminals? Not believable, and the “explanation” was clunky at best—more in the vein of as-you-know-Bob than in believable backstory.
James Lindholm lives in California. Into a Canyon Deep is his newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of CamCat Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)