In The Killing Depths by Martin Roy Hill NCIS agent Linus Schag is sent aboard the USS Encinitas to investigate the death of Jenny Muller. Jenny Muller’s death was originally reported a suicide but there are minor details of her death that have led investigators to wonder if her death was really murder. The USS Encinitas is in pursuit of the Crescent Moon, a renegade Iranian submarine armed with nuclear-tipped missiles; the mission is to sink the Crescent Moon at all cost. Returning to shore to investigate the murder of Jenny Muller is not an option. The case must be solved in the depths of the ocean, even as other women start turning up dead.
The first 100 pages of The Killing Depths was a little bit slow. It was heavy on character development and full of technical details of naval operations, specifically details on submarine mechanics. There were moments when the technical details were a bit tedious but the intensity of the mystery carried me through. There were so many potential suspects, Clare Johnson? Paul Culver? Michael Dutton? Ronnie Iles? Marsha Shuster? It could have been anyone. Although Marsha Shuster was ruled out as soon as details of the killer’s backstory started being told. The details of his relationship with his mother were horrific and the details of one event in particular, well, all I can say is I found it repulsive. I mean that in a good way as it takes a highly skilled and very talented author to write about such an event and have it entrap the reader even deeper into the story.
Hill was also excellent at misleading the reader and building suspects. I suspected at least three other characters before finally identifying the true killer. There really isn’t enough backstory on some of the characters to build motive which made the why of the case hard to identify; there are plenty of details to provide the answers to the when and the how of the murders. Hill set-up a really fantastic mystery in The Killing Depths and it was such a pleasure to read and try to solve.
The best way to really describe The Killing Depths is intense. The last half of the book especially was purely mind-blowing. When the killer was finally revealed and I, as the reader, was able to reconcile the backstory with the character I had come to like, it was an emotional moment. The details of his final psychotic break and descent into ultimate madness were so superbly written I felt like I was able to see the events unfolding before me. I couldn’t read the words or turn the pages fast enough. I couldn’t put it down. I had to keep reading, and reading, and reading, and reading. The final psychosis was written with such power and fervor it is nearly impossible to resist being consumed by the story.
The Killing Depths is a deadly game of hide-and-seek between a misogynistic killer, a co-ed crew of submariners, and a NCIS agent determined to solve the case. I was captivated almost immediately and the intensity didn’t let up until I closed the cover and was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. This was such a powerful and emotionally draining psychological thriller. I highly recommend that you look it up and add it to your must-read list.
Closed the Cover