I finished Deep Storm by Lincoln Child today. It was first published in 2007. This is the first novel I have read by Child, though I think I own a couple of other ones. Overall, I was not impressed by this novel. Also, since it is not at all Child’s first published work, it is also difficult to be very giving in the rating. In case you do not know, this novel is a techno-thriller/adventure-pulp story – it also is science fiction. But the science fiction is a little different than, say, Star Wars-style.
Overall, I feel this novel is lazy in some places. The novel came across to me as if the author wanted to write a techno-thriller – a topic that he does know a lot about – but the story aspects he just threw together a bit carelessly. The story takes place on and very much under an oil rig in the North Atlantic. On a routine drill, weird signals and malfunctions occur. The Navy is somehow made aware and scientists, both military and civilian, are called in. A huge cutting-edge facility is built on the surface of the ocean floor deep below the oil rig. Efforts to continue research are made. Until crew start getting ill. Dr. Peter Crane is summoned by the chief civilian scientist to come aboard this confidential mission and help determine what is making the crew ill. Part of the reason Crane agrees to the whole thing is that the scientists entice him with the cryptic talk of what they found below the sea. For the first half of the novel, there are many hints to Crane and the reader that it is actually Atlantis. Honestly, I would have preferred if it were Atlantis rather than the alien route that the storyline took.
Crane does not get a warm welcome. There is friction between the civilian scientists and the military presence. Furthermore, the medical cases are all distinct and Crane is given a frustrating amount of resistance in his attempts to find answers. Crane is an ex-Navy doctor with submarine experience so he, supposedly, pulls on some of that to assist in dealing with matters in the Deep Storm Facility.
The leader of the whole expedition is Admiral Spartan – that’s Richard Ulysses Spartan. I cannot even believe an author would attempt such a heavy-handed name. As I mentioned earlier, there is an effort to make Deep Storm about Atlantis – and then there is a big reveal in a different direction. Using these monstrous Greek names is not witty, its obnoxious.
Anyway, there are several issues I have with the novel. One of them is the main character, Peter Crane. For at least two-thirds of the novel, Crane is really quite useless. He bumbles around doing nothing and being daft – merely existing as a focal point for the author to tell the story. I mean, he just gets lost in corridors and keeps asking the same questions. I find it difficult to say he was even necessary to the story, which is odd because he is the main character! He does not have much development, nor does he have much depth [pun!]. Crane is exactly what he is when we first meet him, with no hidden complexities. He might be a good doctor, but as detective he is a bum.
Secondly, there is a really quick chapter (just a few pages) wherein one of the original characters on page one returns and there is a cameo of a character named Wallace and an explosive interchange between the two. We next meet Wallace aboard the rig, we do not know how he got there. Throughout the rest of the novel his motivations remain hidden, although while previously he seemed like a leader, in future segments he seems just like a goon. Its not great storytelling.
Another issue is with the character Hui Ping – she is a scientist. We have already been told that the Facility has hired only the top-notch scientists. Yet she does not know what a Faraday screen is. Aliens and technology are believable – but not a scientist not knowing what a Faraday screen is. The author makes sure to utilize this character several times: her knowledge of the layout of the facility is integral to the story and her awesome ability to do forensic computer things is vital as well. She is also able to recognize patterns in data and analyze binary code. The whole lack of Faraday screen knowledge killed this character for me, though. Lazy writing, I guess.
Further, I think the layout and geography of the underwater facility ought to have been presented with a map or a quick schematic. After awhile, though Dr. Crane kept telling us what floor he was on, I lost track of what it all meant. When authors constantly remind you about location, I want location to be important and significant, not just filler.
Suffice to say, its adventure-pulp. There is a mystery and several bad guys and it is a techno-thriller. However, it is not the best effort by an author. Frankly, I was somewhat bored.