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Reviewed by Stefan Vucak for Readers' Favorite
In October 1942, Lieutenant jg Charles Harrison joined the submarine service, after almost three years of destroyer duty in the Atlantic. The S-55 was an old WWI submarine, waiting to sail from Brisbane. Looking at the ugly boat, he wondered if he made a mistake making a transfer to a pig boat. Gorging herself with fuel and supplies to last 30 days, S-55 shoved off; destination, Guadalcanal. His philosophy of how to handle the crew was simple: first the rank, then the man. They didn’t have to like him, but they had to respect him. The aim of patrol duty is to try to sink ships, tie up Japanese escorts, and stay alive. They reached Guadalcanal and began to hunt. They lived through a depth charge attack and the Japanese radio reported them sunk. Loitering off a major enemy port, they ambushed a convoy and sank four merchantmen, just about getting sunk themselves in a counterattack. The S-55 had taken a lot of damage, and barely survived an encounter with a Japanese destroyer in a surface action. With most of the crew dead or wounded, it was time to head home – if they could make it. Charlie wondered if his former girlfriend would take him back.
Crash Dive is a classic WWII story of naval warfare in the Pacific, filled with action and realism. Craig DiLouie gives readers an unvarnished taste of life in an aging sewer pipe, with its stale body smells, mildew, sloshing bilge water, pervasive diesel fumes, and fear of being trapped in a steel coffin with falling depth charges ready to rip them apart. What keeps the men together and sane is the captain and his officers, bent on inflicting maximum damage on the enemy, while trying to survive the mental horrors of combat. Craig DiLouie’s technical mastery of submarine procedures adds a level of realism missing in many books of this genre. I enjoyed reading Crash Dive, but wish that the author had produced a longer book with more fully developed characters and scenarios. I would not hesitate to read other works by Craig DiLouie.