Thief of the Deep
by Jon Coon
400 pages, 5-1/4x8, trade paper
Ex-Navy SEAL Doc Holiday's daughter and her boyfriend have disappeared while investigating the sophisticated plunder of Bermuda's historic shipwrecks. After reestablishing his old CIA contacts, Doc begins the hunt helped by Sheri, the shapely leader of a college underwater archaeology expedition. Using his expertise in underwater explosives and high-tech diving, Doc dives deep into the center of a mystery that involves a museum executive, drug smugglers, a revenge-driven police inspector, a desperate old NAZI U-boat captain, and one deadly player that takes Doc by surprise.
Copyright ? by Jon Coon 1993. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without written permission of the publisher.
Debbie Holiday fought hard to clear her pounding head and tried desperately to shake off the fog of sleep threatening to engulf her. She panted hard, but still couldn't satisfy her brain's primal scream for oxygen. The submarine's scrubbers had failed nine hours ago when depth charges shattered the stern compartment's acrylic dome sending the boat plunging four hundred feet to the edge of the Bermuda trench. Now the air was foul with smoke from shorted circuits and burned wiring. Carbon dioxide levels were rising and oxygen was dangerously low.
The flashing red lights of the oxygen monitor alarm cast a morbid hue across Jason Richardson's battered, bleeding face. There were no visible signs that the renegade archaeologist was still alive, so Debbie pulled herself up to the helm seat where he lay unconscious. She reached over and checked his carotid pulse. The beat was weak and erratic, and her fingers came away warm and sticky with fresh blood from his soaked dressings. She took the last package from the first aid kit and struggled to open the thin sterile envelope. She was gasping for breath, her head was spinning, and she felt nauseous. She dropped to her knees by the chair. Her eyes closed and the dressing slipped from her hand, forgotten.
Now she was drifting, flying over patches of colorful coral with the ease and grace of a gull. But her tranquility was short-lived. Suddenly she was falling, past the edge of the shallow reef, down the splendor of the coral wall, beyond the warmth of the light. The water turned dark and with it came great black fish with glowing eyes, dagger teeth and neon markings. They moved around her as if she were part of a bizarre kaleidoscope of benthic monsters.
She watched them with detached fascination. Then a bright light-painful and violent-split the velvet darkness. She raised her arm to shield her eyes as a ghostly apparition descended toward her. Silhouetted in the painful brightness, it shimmered black with long webbed feet and great protuberances hanging from its mouth. The creature came to rest, kneeling on the acrylic dome above her like a huge winged gargoyle. A massive black hand pressed against the dome. She drew back, terrified.
In the glaring halogen lights of the research sub Doc Holiday saw his daughter, Debbie, lying beside the console seat holding Jason Richardson, her arm covering her eyes. Doc drew his long-bladed Randall from its leg sheath and pounded on the dome with its butt. Debbie remained motionless. He pounded harder and swore at Richardson into the mouthpiece of his closed-circuit recirculator. "You son-of-a-bitch, if you're not dead yet, you're going to wish you were."
Doc turned toward the research sub and signaled the captain to cut the lights. Then he pointed the beam of his dive light into the cabin, but away from Debbie's eyes, and pounded on the dome again. This time she lowered her arm, raised her head and stared up at him before collapsing back into her anoxic stupor.
Thank God she's alive, Doc thought, and his heart beat faster and momentarily tears blurred his vision.
He quickly checked the wrist display of the Westinghouse MK XVII closed-circuit, mixed-gas recirculator. The glowing green light told him it was functioning perfectly. With no noisy exhaust bubbles, only the gentle plop, plop of the large diaphragm reminded him of its presence.
Tom and Mike, carrying olive drab dry packs, landed beside him. Pointing to Debbie, Tom held up the civilian diver OK? sign. Doc hesitated before responding.
I wonder how OK you can be, he asked himself, when you're about to trap yourself inside a disabled sub, not sure you've got enough air for the hours of decompression you'll need before the oversized coffin gets exhumed to the surface by a lunatic drug dealer just waiting for the chance to take you off the tax rolls?
He looked back down at his daughter, fighting for her life only inches away beyond his grasp, and he knew there was only one answer to Tom's question. He gave a military thumbs up and said to himself, "Damn right we're OK, Tom. Things at four hundred feet have never been better. Let's rock and roll."
About the Author
Jon Coon is a regional manager for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). In this book, Jon has drawn heavily on his experiences as a Navy medic, commercial oil field diver specializing in underwater demolitions, diving safety and training officer for NASA, scientific diver, scuba instructor trainer, seminary graduate, and English teacher.
"With Thief of the Deep, Jon Coon has established himself as one of America's top writers of modern sea adventure. A great tale with suspense and romance at every turn."
?Clive Cussler, best-selling author; founder of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA) dedicated to the discovery and preservation of historic shipwrecks
"Action is where Thief of the Deep excels, and Coon plunges you into it from the first word. His action scenes...(are) tightly written and more believable..."
?Karl Shreeves, Scuba Times
"...a complex plot involving underwater raiders...an undetectable state-of-the-art submarine a la Tom Clancy...the drama is tense."
"The best diving fiction I've read in years...Hopefully there's more to come...I'm waiting."
?Michael Menduno, AquaCORPS Journal
"Jon Coon has provided us with an archaeological subterfuge having all the elements of an exciting underwater thriller. The plot twists and turns through a series of adventures that both divers and non-divers will thoroughly enjoy."
?R. Duncan Mathewson III, Ph.D, archaeology director for Mel Fisher's hunt for the treasure galleon Atocha
"...space-age technology, top-secret CIA operatives, drug smuggling, murder, intrigue...highly successful modern adventure novel."
?Scuba Diver Magazine, Australia
"...captivating....Do yourself a favor and read this book. You'll enjoy it.quot;
?The Rappahannock Regulator
"Jon Coon knows his diving. He also tells a rattling good yarn of drug smuggling, murder, CIA skullduggery and buried treasure....a thoroughly good read"
?Sport Diver Magazine, England
"Jon Coon has hatched a tense plot involving drug smuggling, murder, and wreck piracy in Bermuda waters. He weaves into the story much fascinating Bermuda maritime history and...portrays the controversy between wreck hunting and archaeological digs. The resulting story is both tense and informative."
?Stan Waterman, Emmy Award-winning underwater filmmaker
"Jon Coon very skillfully tells the tale, drawing on his own experiences...provides the reader with interesting and educational insights into various aspects of diving.... Romance is tastefully intermingled with the high adventure and technical wizardry, rounding the book off very nicely.... provides exciting and interesting reading... deserves a place on all of our bookshelves."
?John Lippmann, head of Divers Alert Network Southeast Asia, and author of several technical diving books
"...blends plenty of action with credible undersea scenes with a cast of somewhat larger than life characters to provide good entertainment with a different twist."
?Paul Sullivan, The Free Lance-Star