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Depth Charge

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Julian “Tusker” Tusk, an American archaeologist, is excavating a shipwreck half a world from home when a research boat catches fire and sinks, killing an old friend. The tragedy sets in motion a dangerous quest for truth that pulls Tusker into a sinister plot spanning 75 years, from World War II Ceylon to modern day Sri Lanka. Along the way, he matches wits with a psychopathic mercenary, discovers a long lost ship with an explosive secret, and falls for a beautiful marine biologist who is at least as strong as he is. In the end, Tusker finds that the truth may lie at the bottom of the sea, with only one way back to the surface. Depth Charge is an old school thriller in the tradition of Fleming, Maclean, and Cussler, with an eye for detail, cunning villains, and narrow escapes. The story is full of wartime secrets, the intersection of religion and politics, and the arcane world of deep technical diving. It takes readers from the smoky halls of 1940s London to the volatile, seductive heat of Sri Lanka and sixty fathoms under the Indian Ocean. Try not to hold your breath.

272 pages, Paperback

Published April 29, 2021

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About the author

Jason Heaton

3 books30 followers
Jason Heaton has a decade-long history of adventure, travel, wristwatch, and gear writing, and his work has appeared in Outside magazine, Gear Patrol, Men’s Journal, Wired, Australian Geographic, and Hodinkee. The New York Times once called him, “a test pilot for the world’s most illustrious undersea timepieces.” He is also the co-host of the popular podcast, The Grey NATO.

A certified technical diver, Heaton has been underwater all over the world, from the Galapagos to New Zealand to the Caribbean, and since 2015, he has been a member of the prestigious Explorers Club. He lives with his wife, Gishani, and their two cats in Minneapolis.

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5 stars
169 (47%)
4 stars
117 (33%)
3 stars
55 (15%)
2 stars
11 (3%)
1 star
2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews
Profile Image for Lucas.
7 reviews4 followers
January 19, 2022
I stumbled upon this book at random. I was reading Hodinkee when I saw an article about it, the premise instantly intrigued me.

It’s a techno-thriller centered around scuba diving and watches, which meant I’m basically the ideal core demographic!

The story itself is interesting and the writing style is approachable. The book centers around divers in Sri Lanka and a downed WWII ship holding crucial cargo. However it does feel too basic at times and, without spoiling anything, I was felt let down by the ending. Perhaps being spoilt from my current obsession of the “Bond” books made me expect more.

Where this book truly shines is when the narrative dives underwater. Heston does an excellent job portraying the wonder and spectacle of diving; whilst at the same time recreating the sense of danger, dread and paranoia that can arise.
Profile Image for A Palmer.
8 reviews1 follower
May 1, 2021
This was a very good book.
It initially caught my attention via Instagram. I was somewhat familiar with Jason Heaton via his podcast and I know we share a lot of the same interests. Then reading some of the promo blurbs calling it “an old school thriller in the tradition of Fleming...” ordering a copy was a no brainer.
I received my signed copy ($15 on his website) a few days ago and was psyched to jump in. Due to the size of the book, I assumed it’d be a few days worth of reading. Nope. Despite a slight hangover and work I finished it in one day. It was a page turner that I could not put down.
The story is very fast paced, (relatively..? For a thriller) realistic, and enjoyable with likable characters I ended up rooting for.
It checked a lot of boxes for me- crime/ thriller, international politics anchored in real history, foreign travel and culture, with some commentary on world politics without getting preachy.
Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Nate Solberg.
86 reviews1 follower
May 12, 2021
Really enjoyed reading Depth Charge, the first novel from Twin Cities writer Jason Heaton! I've followed Jason's podcast, The Gray NATO, for a number of years, and was intrigued as he reported his writing progress for this work. I picked up my Kindle edition immediately upon release, and was very pleased that I did. I am, and will probably always be, a desk diver, but the underwater scenes had me feeling incredibly claustrophobic. The story is tight, and he has created an exciting, well-written page turner (virtual, in my case). It was a fun read, and I'm very hopeful that we'll see another Tusker adventure in the future.
Profile Image for Stefan O.
1 review
July 6, 2021
An exciting and engaging plot, particularly in the second half, where the pace and energy don’t let up.
Has all the elements of a great thriller: exotic locations, adventure and romance, with heavy doses of intrigue, danger, suspense and macabre.

I was initially worried the story would lean heavily on the tropes of the thriller genre, but was pleasantly surprised; the plot revolving around technical diving was unique (to myself, anyways), and made it feel very fresh.

The writing is somewhat stiff and clunky at times, and lacks some of the ‘cruel poetry’ which would help to develop the sinister atmosphere and drama of the story.

Overall, an entertaining read and a commendable first effort by the author. Looking forward to reading more adventures of Tusker in the future!
Profile Image for Jerome.
7 reviews
May 16, 2021
Great old school thriller taking place in modern times. Big adventure. Exotic location. A lot of (underwater) suspense and action. The story may be a little simple and linear but it is a very enjoyable read. Very well written too. One of these books that you just can't put down and made me miss a few hours of sleep!
1 review
May 25, 2021
When I heard from Jason (on The Gray Nato podcast), about this book as old school thriller in style of Fleming and Clive Cussler with great timepieces in it, it was no brainer to sign me in. Growing up on Cussler's books and Indiana Jones movies I got mix of both in this book. Main character, Tusker is little bit of Indi and little bit of Dirk, diver archeologist, down to earth college professor that is not appearing as un-human in some moments as Cussler's Dirk.
Good plot, bad guys you just love to hate, a little bit of Sri Lanka's history and bad ass women characters you fell in love from the moment she jumps from old Land Rover. Written with simple language, that even someone who never went in the sea deeper than 10m, can understand what is going own when you are diving in 50 fathoms.
Great first novel, and can't wait to see more from Jason.
Profile Image for J.R. Seeger.
Author 8 books16 followers
May 11, 2021
Jason Heaton’s first novel is outstanding. Set in Sri Lanka, the story focuses on a “treasure hunt” that begins in the early years of WWII and ends in the 21st century.

Heaton’s descriptions of scuba and mixed gas diving and the dangers of deep dives offer white knuckle reading as both the protagonist and the nemesis race to recover a long lost weapon.

Along the way, the author provides the reader with a great feeling for life in the tropics and the characters (both good and bad) who live on coastlines in South Asia.

Excellent first go! I hope we see a sequel.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Robert Carter.
29 reviews1 follower
June 17, 2021
Jason Heaton’s Depth Charge is equal parts Fleming and Cussler combined with obvious passion for the topics portrayed in the book. Mr. Heaton was very particular in his descriptions of the culture and environment, leading to a kind of immersion into the landscape. It had action, romance and you left feeling like you learned something. The book was fast paced and was hard to put down. I’m hoping to see more from this author very soon.
Profile Image for A.B..
75 reviews1 follower
July 7, 2021
This book is a classic thriller, a la Bond or others written in the 60s. The writing is tight and the descriptions are expert but accessible, the diving sequences in particular are fantastic, and the technical aspects of it are described in detail but not boring whatsoever, a hard task to accomplish. If you are looking for that feeling you got when you first read Casino Royale this is a quick read worthy of your time.
2 reviews2 followers
May 8, 2021
Fun, quick read. Obviously well researched as it pertains to the technical aspects of diving. He also clearly knows the geography and culture of Sri Lanka well which is an interesting and atypical setting for many novels. Very enjoyable.
Profile Image for Wilbur McKesson.
14 reviews1 follower
July 9, 2022
Amazing first novel! The author did an excellent job telling the story of Tusker. Seeing as I’ve been to Sri Lanka, everything was perfectly written in the story, from the traffic to the interactions with people. Solid work
Profile Image for Mary.
323 reviews6 followers
January 24, 2023
Quite similar to Clive Cussler (Dirk Pitt) and Ian Fleming (James Bond) books ... danger lurks, guy raises to the rescue, guy meets girl, they get the bad guys, etc. For divers, it's much more interesting as the author is quite detailed on what goes on at 300 feet below the surface.
Profile Image for Adelbert.
47 reviews3 followers
August 10, 2023
A funny experience. I confess the first time I read this I did not enjoy it and made myself power through it. Decided to pick it up again a year later and re-read it in preparation for the next novel and thoroughly enjoyed it, enough to give it a 5/5.
1 review
May 3, 2021
Great read! Really enjoyed the very descriptive underwater scenes. Also, learned some Sri Lanka history. Looking forward to reading more Tusker adventures.
Profile Image for Patrick.
10 reviews2 followers
May 5, 2021
Read in almost one sitting , very enjoyable and action packed whilst not really my favorite genre these days the story and description was done well , for a first novel very impressive
Profile Image for Kenneth.
165 reviews3 followers
May 27, 2021
Pretty enjoyable. Apt comparisons to Cussler due to diving and the storytelling format. I hope Heaton writes more books.
June 11, 2021
Fantastic debut

I raced through this book whilst on holiday. Exciting plot, great characters and informative for a non diver. A great debut novel.
Profile Image for Paul Rivas.
58 reviews
June 20, 2021
A good first effort from a new novel writer. A solid story with interesting characters. The plot is a little predictable but still enjoyable. I look forward to reading Mr. Heaton's next book.
Profile Image for Evgeniy Oleinik.
12 reviews3 followers
July 23, 2021
The book doesn't pretend to be anything groundbreaking - it's a fast-paced, old-school thriller with good research and likeable (albeit 2-dimensional) characters. Great read!
1 review
August 14, 2021
I loved this first book by Jason Heaton. Hope he turns this into a series! A great thriller, adventure and spy novel set in exotic locations. A future classic.
9 reviews
March 15, 2022
Great debut novel. Lacking in substance at times but a fun easy read nonetheless.
Profile Image for Dino.
26 reviews
May 6, 2022
It was okay. Jason is a writer I like, and this was a good story.
Profile Image for Braedy.
14 reviews
January 26, 2023
A fast-paced and entertaining underwater thriller. One of those effortlessly enjoyable reads that are easy to tackle after you've just digested a particularly heavy or difficult novel!
770 reviews2 followers
July 20, 2023
Fun, somewhat preposterous, and ultimately recommendable. Expect genre and you'll get genre.
September 14, 2023
First novel from watch/gear writer Jason Heaton whom I quite admire. Intriguing premise and characters, well researched, and very much so in keeping with the author’s nature.
Profile Image for Christoffer.
2 reviews
December 30, 2021
After hearing about the book on The Gray Nato and hearing Jason read some of it it really peaked my interest. I downloaded it to my kindle and read it over the course of a few days and thoroughly enjoyed it all the way. The story, though not the most complex and surprising, is still gripping enough to urge me to keep reading, and keep enjoying where the story is headed. For a first fictional full book from Jason, this was a solid hit in my book. The writing is detailed and precise, and it is clear to me that the subjects in this book are well researched and within the realm of interest of the author. It's clear that diving, driving, gear and most certainly watches are something close to the authors heart, and something I think he uses well in a book like this.

A gripping underwater thriller that kept me wanting to keep reading by stealing the minutes wherever I could. And with the relatively short book this is, 10 of 10 would recommend you give it a read if a good thriller is your thing.
Profile Image for Miran.
288 reviews
July 10, 2021
The best part of the book experience was IMHO the look and feel of the cover and cover art, it is really first class paperback edition. Regarding text, my biggest problem would be the text edit. Why in the world the text didn't go from one end to the other end of the page?!

Regarding story, it is hard to say my opinion without spoiling something, but here I go.

The strongest part was the ending with some little twists and turns. Characters are also good, but on the black-and-white, cartoonish spectre.

When looked together, the story is too simple. Especially in the beginning, it reminded me of my (addmitingly weak) attempts to write a thriller. It was really too simple, without big mistery, and with conversations and descriptions that felt strained, like the author was trying too hard to project trendy vintage old-school vibe.

It is more for first time thriller readers. More experienced readers could be dissapointed.
Profile Image for Tom Place.
65 reviews
April 19, 2022
From the wristwatches to the dive knives and Land Rovers, Heaton nailed the details in his first novel. A fun read from cover to cover in the likes of Flemming and MacLean, with diving, adventure and a bit of history on nearly every page. I know I'm hoping to see more adventures of Julian Tusk in the future!
Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews

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