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CBR6 #16: Dead Sea by Tim Curran

I really wanted to like this book. It seems like it should be right up my alley: maritime disaster? Check. Horror? Check. Survival on the high seas and the idea that the other survivors are the real danger? Check and check.

And yet...

The premise was great -- a ship taking a construction crew to South American travels into a thick, mysterious fog and emerges in a place that is very clearly not right. The fog seems almost alive -- and very unfriendly. Plus, it's full of creatures that shouldn't exist, and ships that aren't where they belong.

There were some great characters, too. The first mate, the cook, the undercover corporate spy -- all smart, interesting characters with solid voices. There was a good, love-to-hate human antagonist as well as the unknown fog monster. There was even a tough, capable female character. I liked the parts where characters discovered the history of some of the ships that had ended up in this place. All that was great.

The problem was that the story dragged significantly in the middle. Although I understood the desire to ratchet up the tension by leaving the characters adrift, I got awfully frustrated after a while watching the same situation play out repeatedly in each lifeboat. Something scary would happen, but then it would just go back to waiting and watching, and I would pray again that the separate groups would finally find one another so that something of interest could happen. Once they did combine, the ending rocketed on to a somewhat satisfying conclusion, but by then I was barely managing to keep interested.

I think this book might have benefitted from some solid editing. The story was rich and interesting, the characters had real potential, and there were some genuine scares that kept me up a night or two. There was just too MUCH of everything.

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