Monday, January 20, 2014

Next Blockbuster Submarine Movie: "THE KILLING DEPTHS"

Vigilis promised to review Martin Roy Hill's  submarine novel THE KILLING DEPTHS after reading the thriller. After reading Hill's pageturner, however, he realized the  best way to review it without spoiling the thrills and action was by simple comparison with another outstanding submarine novel, the late Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October:

What's to Like

  • Action in KILLING DEPTHS, which includes an active NCIS homicide investigation on the U.S. sub, differs entirely from Red October. Interesting updates and enhancements (since 1984) also include:
  • female SSN crewmembers
  • female accomodation in space commonly occupied by 4 of 12 VLTs;  (most boats in service as of 2011 have a 12-tube VLS) Hmmm!
  • slot buoy comms
  • CAPTOR (encapsulated torpedoes) intelligent, deep-water, anti-submarine mines anchored to the ocean floor. 
  • Helo transport of key civilian character to USS Encinitas was fairly humorous.
  • plot keeps reader guessing for a long time.
  • CO is a black.
  • Engineering officer is a woman.

What's not to Like 

  • Use of single ping sonar (common element of both novels) although barely more credible in DEPTHS as  El-Wazir, the enemy sub captain in THE KILLING DEPTHS,  uses his ping from desperation in a deadly kill or be killed action.
  • Editing is generally appropriate, but in some rare instances appears to have relied more on computerized text-editng than human skill. Annoying instances were "Condition Dog Zebra", which has an urban definition unlike the navy's Condition "ZEBRA", oddly scattered use of present tense verbs instead of appending an "ed", and a single use of "fairweather" that should have been "fairwater". [Red October was published by the Naval Institute Press. Unlike Clancy, Hill did not sell his to USNI for $5,000.]
  • Rather than answering the political question of how psychological screening of U.S. submarine volunteers could have deteriorated to the point of allowing a psychopath on board, the author simply asks the same question I had before reading the book. -Vigilis
Submarines are always silent and strange.

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