Review: The Ocean Dark

By Jack Rogan

Ballantine Books, out now

It should have been a standard gun-running operation, both for the criminals involved and for the FBI looking to take them down. But neither side anticipated the involvement of something lurking in the water…

Jack Rogan’s debut novel drops the reader straight into a terrifying situation, as a gun-running crew is attacked, leaving one sole survivor. They’re meant to be making a rendezvous with another motley crew, who are all suspicious of each other, with good cause – particularly as one of them is in fact an undercover operative for the FBI.

If you enjoyed Stephen Sommers’ early movie Deep Rising, you’ll like this book, which places well-drawn characters into what should be highly improbable situations, yet maintains its credibility throughout. There’s perhaps occasionally too many reminders of some of the crew’s motives (yes, we know one of them feels guilty about the way he treated his wife; and another is conflicted over feelings for the FBI agent – we don’t need to be told it quite so often), but each person is believable, and adapts to the circumstances in which they find themselves in different ways.

The action sequences are very well written, and Rogan joshes with the reader on occasion by manipulating the scenes so you expect the worse but find that sometimes the situation isn’t quite as bad as you believe. It’s a stylistic trick that is in fact one of the giveaways that Rogan isn’t quite the debutante he appears to be – in fact Rogan was recently revealed to be a pen name for prolific horror and fantasy author Christopher Golden.

Verdict: A stylish thriller that is well worth seeking out.  8/10

Paul Simpson

 

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