North Sea Hunters, Brad Harmer-Barnes (Severed Press)

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Let’s get my personal bias out of the way. I love giant-shark stories. Steve Alten’s Meg books, for example, are a constant source of delight. So are cheesy flicks like Megashark Versus Giant Octopus. I’m not sure why, and I try not to shine too bright a light on the whole subject, but I love ‘em. I mean, just look at that cover. How could you not want to read that story?

The novel starts out as a typical war story. In 1939, a German U-boat sinks an enemy freighter and pulls some survivors out of the water. But here’s the thing: the survivors say the submarine didn’t sink their boat. A shark tried to eat it, chewed holes in it, sent it crashing to the bottom of the sea.

The German crew is skeptical, at first, but not for very long. Soon the giant shark is hot on the sub’s trail, attacking, attacking, attac – well. You get the point. Again: I love this stuff. And it doesn’t have to be very good for me to have a great time; it can even be pretty bad (I’m looking at you, Megashark Versus Giant Octopus).

North Sea Hunters, I’m pleased to report, is quite good. The writing is economical, the dialogue is sharp, and the author packs in enough military terminology and technical jargon to give the proceedings a nice Tom Clancy-like sheen of reality. Because I’m a claustrophobe, I won’t say too much about the book’s claustrophobic atmosphere (the story takes place on a submarine, remember), except to point out that it made me very uncomfortable.

You should read this book. Even if you don’t like giant-shark stories, but especially you do.

 

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