Now it's up to Captain Michael Pacino and the USS Seawolf to find the enemy sub and destroy it -- in the ultimate battle between the most advanced weapons technology on the planet and the sheer force of human courage.
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By S. Morris on 15-06-18
I happened across Michael DiMercurio's work some years ago and hoped Audible would eventually have his books available. For quite a while I noticed that only his first book, Voyage of The Devil Fish, was listed but more recently saw that most of his novels are now on Audible. At last look, there are, I think, three books not yet available. From memory, these are "Threat Vector", "Vertical Dive" and "Emergency Deep". I believe the latter two are part of a newer series outside the Michael Paccino world and based in a less fictionalised one.
What struck me about DiMercurio's work was how unrecognized it is compared to the likes of Tom Clancy. I read Clancy's "Red Storm Rising" and was underwhelmed by it and somewhat disappointed expecting better from my first experience of Clancy's writing. To be fair, I haven't read any other Clancy stories so I wait to be suitably impressed. However, DiMercurio, on the other hand really knows his stuff as he had served aboard U.S nuclear submarines during the Cold War unlike Clancy and his writing shows this. DiMercurio's writing style is rather like a movie screenplay and his pacing is also excellent. Action sequences are vivid, visceral and tense as well as impressive in their technical detail.
Phoenix Sub Zero is a prime example of DiMercurio's work and the plot moves along nicely. I have to wonder why Hollywood hasn't picked up on this series as it would give them a great action/techno-thriller portfolio from which to paint the big screen with and DiMercurio's writing style lends itself perfectly to this medium.
For those who have an interest in submarines you will love these books which are richly detailed and puts you right into the nuclear boats depicted tracking, hunting and evading the enemy. These books, however, do depart from reality in subtle but distinct ways for those like me who are nerdy enough to spot it. Quite why DiMercurio chose to do this is not clear to me but it does not detract from the story at all. For example, he mentions both the USS Augusta and USS Phoenix but although both are indeed real submarines of the class described, the Augusta is not hull number SSN 763 and not an "improved" Los Angeles class rather a flight 2 boat if I recall correctly. The Mk 50 torpedoes used are a substitute for the Mk 48 units actually in use in the U.S Navy and the Javelin missile is clearly analogous to the Tomahawk cruise missile. On the flip side, most everything else technical I read appears to be accurate. Again, none of this matters to the reader but it was just something perhaps worth a mention to those out there much more familiar with the subject matter.
Where DiMercurio excels is in his fictional enemy submarines and their advanced technologies which he writes very credibly seemingly extrapolating from his knowledge of submarine systems to come up with very sophisticated adversary technologies.
However, there is a big but coming up here and it's the fact that this excellent story is let down by poor narration. Unsuitable narration is the killer of an otherwise good story and this could be said of this one. Alas, it appears the same narrator is used throughout the series. The problem with it is that the reader makes no effort to use different voices to really bring the story to life. This makes for a flat reading of the book and can make discerning who is talking difficult at times. I can't quite make up my mind whether the narrator has a reading style more suitable to a corporate presentation or a children's bed time story. Either way, it's very disappointing especially when there are some excellent and well established narrators on Audible. Mark Boyett would have been an excellent choice or perhaps better still, the incredible R.C. Bray who imbues his reading with the most skilled delivery I've ever heard. So, a good story torpedoed by a bad narrator I'm afraid. I'd still highly recommend this book but maybe consider the print version unless you're OK with the sample audio.