Summary: (4/5 stars) Into the Drowning Deep is a monster thriller novel with the pacing of a movie and reminds me a lot of Michael Crichton’s later work.

The basic premise is that a big, scientific ship is going to the Mariana trench to do some marine research.  Some of the people on the ship are going to investigate the deaths of all the people on another ship that went there seven years earlier.  Some of the investigators believe that the other people were killed by previously undocumented sea monsters that everyone calls mermaids.

Spoiler alert: A buncha people die.  It’s fun!

This is described as “Rolling in the Deep #1,” which suggests that there’s another book. But Rolling in the Deep is a prequel that follows the ship that was lost seven years before this story. So, I don’t really know what’s going on with this as a series.

SPOILER WARNING: From this point forward, I’m going to discuss this book without any concern about spoilers. So, if you don’t like spoilers you should stop reading now.

Seven years ago, the Atargatis was discovered adrift, all crew mysteriously lost.  There’s some video footage of some people being killed by gruesome “mermaid” creatures with humanoid torsos and eel-like hindquarters. Nevertheless, most people believe the mermaids are a hoax and don’t take the situation very seriously.

Atargatis was out in the ocean to film a documentary for a big media corporation called Imagine, so this book is about Imagine contracting a new crew of scientists and media people to do a new documentary.

There’s nothing surprising about the structure of this story.  It’s paced like a movie, by which I mean it moves very quickly with lots of suspense and action.  I do wish a little more time were spent describing marine biology because I think that’s neat, but overall it flows really well.

Also like in a movie, the characters are a range of likable and unlikable characters based on various tropes. There’s the “evil” corporate minion.  The bitter scientist with a theory no one takes seriously.  The sister out on a mission to get revenge or closure.  The psychopathic weapons people who want to kill everything.

But there are some interesting twists in the characters. Some of the characters are deaf or sign.  There is at least one lesbian and one bisexual lady.  The psychopaths are a couple that I actually found to be really interesting and wish they had more “screen time.”

And I like the monsters, which are more accurately called sirens, not mermaids. The book explains why and I’ll leave the mystery.

But the book does very strongly hint at a possible continuation of the series.

Anyway, I really liked this book. Great summer reading!  Or autumn. Or winter. Or anytime you like to read fun stuff.