Phillip Chen has written a remarkable and stylish SF thriller, so prepare for a front seat drive. At the outset, the immediate action and vivid description of pilots in peril pull the reader straight into the story. What begins as a deep-sea mystery soon turns into a switchback ride of deadly cat and mouse. The story has a continuous forward momentum and an underlying tension that doesn't let go. It introduces a wide variety of richly drawn characters, each of which provokes an emotional response from the reader.
There is effective use of humour in tense situations and a consistent thread of military/security service banter. However, many of the personnel in the book are trained in the use of lethal weapons and deadly force. The plot also includes chillingly realistic fire fights and assassinations. Although the reader may not wish to imagine himself in some of the situations, it is difficult to believe that the author has not been there himself, so precisely are the details recorded.
Military use of undersea exploration craft and the reality of existence within such machinery is introduced in detail. Although the level of description might do justice to an internal security service report, on no occasion does it get in the way of this fast-paced thriller. The way the back story is woven unobtrusively into the action is very expertly done. A delight to the reader is the authoritative way the technical aspects of computer systems, submersible devices, weaponry and machinery are described.
The novel works well as a standalone, with scope for a sequel. If there is a sequel, I shall definitely be in line to read it!