Down Deep

Mike Croft, Author
Mike Croft, Author Alma Books $14.95 (365p) ISBN 978-1-84688-058-2
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Croft (White Man Falling under the name Mike Stocks) makes an earnest if ultimately ineffectual attempt at a Crichton-esque, high-concept scientific thriller. The story is of Dr. Roderick Ormond, director of London's Marine Mammal Institute, as he attempts to decipher a string of wildly unnatural-and eventually hostile-whale behavior surrounding the U.K. One whale in particular, a mature male sperm whale christened Blackfin, desperately tries to communicate with the human world by any means necessary. As Roderick faces ghosts from his past, he obsesses over two questions: What are the whales trying to warn us about and how are they even cognitively capable of doing so? Unfortunately, vague characterization and a deluge of unnatural dialogue, combined with a lethargic plot, keep this ""thriller"" from ever becoming more than mildly interesting. Infused with wry British charm, the chapters would pass by amiably enough were they not full of irrelevant scientific details that seem to exist only to prove the author's thorough research. The result is a gilded shell of narrative, and a story almost as shallow as the English Channel it inhabits.
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