cover image Down to a Sunless Sea

Down to a Sunless Sea

David Poyer / Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0

Capturing the thrills and dangers of undersea cave diving, Poyer's fourth Tiller Galloway tale (Louisiana Blue, etc.) stands as one of his best novels yet. The story opens with Galloway running a down-and-out marine salvage operation in Cape Hatteras. His run of past bad luck looks to end when he's contacted by Monica Kusczk, widow of an old friend who has just died in a cave-diving accident. At her request, Galloway travels to Florida with his rebellious teenage son, Tad, in tow, intent on helping Monica sell Bud's diving business. While Galloway is learning the ropes as a cave diver, however, he discovers some unaccounted-for profits that lead him to question the wisdom of the sale. Soon he's approached about an old debt by a drug smuggler who was using Bud as a money launderer. A visit to the cave where Bud died reveals a plot to buy from the Kusczks a huge underwater aquifer that would produce significant profits for the purchaser, a conservancy that hopes to sell water to area businesses. Threatened by the drug smugglers and suspicious of the conservancy, Galloway appeals to a federal drug agent for help; but the agent, in turn, pressures Galloway to lead a climactic raid on the smugglers' stronghold. The cat-and-mouse games between Galloway and his various adversaries bristle with suspense, and Poyer adds some nice touches through Tad's surprising role in the drama and Galloway's affair with Monica. What makes this novel particularly memorable, however, are the extensive, harrowing descriptions of the cave dives, which are riveting enough to terrify experienced divers and hydrophobes alike. (Nov.)