Crush Depth
Joe Buff
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Crush Depth

Joe Buff
William Morrow & Co.
449 pages
October 2002
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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In the year 2012, the United States is again at war, and the Germans are again vying for world supremacy. After an attack against an Allied submarine by a German nuclear submarine called the Voortrekker, leaders of Allied and Axis powers are left reeling. Captain Jeffrey Fuller, commander of the submarine USS Challenger, is issued orders to find the Voortrekker. Though the Challenger had been pulled into port for repairs, Captain Fuller nevertheless takes her out to sea again after a cruise missile strike against the United States propels him into action. Though still wounded, the Challenger

Two old enemies clash, and Fuller is determined to bring down his rival and commander of the Voortrekker, Jan ter Horst. This exciting war drama is told through multiple points of view and locations that span the Indian Ocean, Africa and the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Personal problems are worked into subplots that propel the plot forward in the hands of the main characters, as different in personalities as are their nationalities.

While contending with the urgent situation at hand, Jeffrey is also concerned about his mother, who is dying of cancer. Heís also dealing with the fact that heís sleeping with the former lover of his enemy, former Boer freedom fighter Ilse Reebeck, who has switched her loyalties to the American side in this war for domination. Ter Horst is set to wreak havoc and revenge against Jeffrey in retribution for an attack his sub, the USS Challenger, launched in South Africa. Ter Horstís First Officer, Gunther Van Gelder, is not so sure about his captainís obsessive thirst for revenge, but is left with few options as the Voortrekker begins its own game of cat and mouse with the still-wounded Challenger.

This is an intense action and suspense drama reminiscent of the Hunt for Red October, though much more compelling. Vivid descriptions of life on a submarine and the workings of nuclear submarines fill the narrative, but the technical jargon and workings of the sub are expertly and seamlessly blended into the prose, creating a unique un-Clancyesque treatment of background information. While Crush Depth was written primarily for a male audience, women who love to read adventure will enjoy this work of Buffís. In Jeffrey, Buff has created a fallible hero, and an endearing one. The authorís treatment of Van Gelder enables the reader to understand the feelings and emotions involved in both sides in this war story, and while there is a clearcut idea of the good guys versus the bad guys, the lines are blurred depending upon whose perspective the reader is sharing at any given moment. This is a great offering from author Joe Buff, and one that should not be missed.

© 2003 by Denise M. Clark for Curled Up With a Good Book

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