© 2012 Todd Tucker
The USS Alabama, like the rest of the Trident submarine force, exists for one reason only: strategic deterrence. Onboard her are enough nuclear missiles to destroy a dozen or more prominent cities, for use in a nuclear conflict. Her existence is a dark message: it doesn’t matter who strikes first in a nuclear war: no one walks away. And now…she’s steaming towards Taiwan through a haze of mysterious accidents which threaten to cripple the ship and expose her in waters which the Chinese State considers its own turf. With two Chinese submarines actively hunting her, the crew of Alabama have no time to waste in rooting out the traitor in their midst and getting underway.
Although I’ve watched numerous submarine movies (U-531, Red October, Crimson Tide), Collapse Depth marks new reading terrain for me. Tucker alternates between the technical thriller – the running and personal drama, almost entirely aboard the ship. Lieutenant Jabo, who at the outset tenders his resignation in preparation for a more lucrative civilian career, takes center stage, as the captain relies on him to find out what’s bedeviling their ship. Although he has his doubts about the future of the Trident force’s mission, Jabo is an attentive officer who excels in a crisis — which is good, because there’s someone aboard who is suddenly obsessed with creating them. Fires, crew poisonings ; Collapse Depth borrows on its author’s at-sea experience to deliver a sense of how complicated a modern* submarine is, how easily things can go wrong: additional details about the operation of nuclear submarine are given to the reader through Jabo’s instruction of a new junior officer. The crisis only grows until the last few pages of the novel, as the crew desperately fights to save themselves – both from the deep and from outside enemies.
Although occasionally checkered with a few copy-editing oversights on the Kindle version Collapse Depth’s fast story and incredible amount of detail in an unusual setting, make it a promising start. I look forward to continuing in the series.