Ryan Lockwood
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Buy *Below* by Ryan Lockwoodonline

Ryan Lockwood
416 pages
June 2013
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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After mysterious disappearances of swimmers and strange attacks in San Diego waters, experienced scuba diver Will Sturman teams up with Dr. Val Martell to target and control the hungry predators.

The story opens as 15 Honduran illegal immigrants are dropped into the ocean. As they float, awaiting the approaching pick up boat, teenager Miguel watches the sinister shadows moving below him. When the pick-up boat arrives, there is one man, barely alive and torn up. His only words: “Los Diablos rojos.

Author Ryan Lockwood’s thrilling debut novel takes man into the beast’s watery depths with fluid agility, setting up eerie scenes of unsuspecting victims and the monsters lurking below. Lockwood’s language is descriptive and sensual, bringing the water to life as it cradles the beasts that are portrayed with sensitivity and tenderness as well as predatory cunning and violence. Each incident builds on the tension of the last, and Lockwood manages to hint at and reveal the creatures from the beginning while still maintaining the growing fear as they become more confident hunters.

Lockwood’s characters are multi-dimensional and sufficiently compelling to move the plot forward. Will Sturman is a likeable and credible character, still grieving the loss of his wife and a likely victim for the romance that tempts him, while the supporting characters and their dialogues also work smoothly.

The description of the scuba-diving procedures and activity are detailed and persuasive, thoroughly immersing the reader in the quiet beauty and dangers of the watery depths. Short chapters and tight writing, in addition to continual shifts in perspective from one character to the next and to the beasts themselves, enhance the tension and the fast-pace of the developing plot, making for an intense and satisfying read.

Below is an exhilarating read that sets a pit in your stomach from the start and keeps the reader riveted until the end. Highly recommended.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Maya Fleischmann, 2013

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