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Decompression: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Juli Zeh
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $25.95
Kindle Price: $11.84
You Save: $14.11 (54%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

A psychological thriller in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith about two couples caught in a web of conflicting passions while deep-sea diving off the beautiful Canary Islands

In the late 1990s, Sven Fiedler and his girlfriend, Antje, left Germany for the island of Lanzarote, rejecting what Sven considered a vulgar culture of materialism and judgment. The young couple set up a diving service catering to tourists eager to bask in the warm sunshine and explore the silent, gleaming marine paradise that makes this otherwise barren volcanic island such a remarkable retreat. Sven’s approach was simple: take the mechanics of diving seriously, instruct his clients clearly, and stay out of their personal business as best he can.
And life on the island goes smoothly until two German tourists--Jola von der Pahlen, a daytime soap star on the verge of cinematic success, and Theo Hast, a stalled novelist--engage Sven for a high-priced, intensive two-week diving experience. Staying in a guest house on Sven and Antje's property, the two visitors and their hosts quickly become embroiled in a tangle of jealousy and suspicion.

Sven is struck by Jola's beauty, her evident wealth, and her apparently volatile relationship with the much older Theo. Theo quickly leaps to the conclusion that Sven and Jola are having an affair, but, oddly, he seems to facilitate it rather than trying to intervene. Antje, looking on, grows increasingly wary of these particular clients.
As the point of view shifts from one character to the next, the reader is constantly kept guessing about who knows what, and, more important, who is telling the truth. A brutal game of delusion, temptation, and manipulation plays out, pointing toward a violent end. But a quiet one, down in the underwater world beneath the waves.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Sven Feidler has abandoned the petty competitiveness of German society to establish a diving business in the Canary Islands. There, he and his girlfriend, Antje, have achieved happiness and a stellar reputation. Then, German soap-opera star Jola and her writer boyfriend, Theo, hire Sven to teach Jola advanced diving skills certain to win her the coveted role in a diving-centered blockbuster. But Sven soon realizes that there is something off-kilter about the couple. He catches them pushing each other into deadly situations, and Jola drops hints that abusive Theo is attempting to murder her. By then, Sven is obsessively attracted to Jola, even fancying himself in love, which ignites a dangerous, simmering jealousy in both Antje and Theo. Sven’s detached, self-absorbed version of the novel’s violent climax is mysteriously contrasted with Jola’s desperate journal entries that tell an altogether different story. Despite the temperate island setting, this crime novel is Scandinavian-style, couching incisive social commentary in a dark exploration of tainted love, obsession, and self-delusion. --Christine Tran


"A mesmerizing and disturbing psychological thriller...Zeh's talent pulls this morally murky tale up from the depths and toward a redeeming light." —Wall Street Journal

"Erotic intrigue, deep-sea diving and clients from hell make for a lively mix in this German author’s fourth novel.... The gathering suspense is complemented by nuanced characterization in a pleasingly unpredictable work." —Kirkus Reviews

"Zeh is adept at describing the carelessness and perversities of the rich and famous.... [T]his is a story about obsession – this time with status, looks, and celebrity culture." —The Independent

"Gripping...Zeh is exceptional at building tension, and her use of shifting viewpoints keeps the reader guessing to the end. A darkly comic thriller that is impossible to put down." —Library Journal

“A tale that unfolds at a high level of psychological excitement.” —Der Spiegel
“A nightmarish, furious, cold thriller…Juli Zeh is at her literary best when she's describing underwater silence, when she's describing situations in which isolation is total and the world as it exists above water is bidden farewell. This is phenomenal.”Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung
“Juli Zeh's love-triangle drama easily bears comparison with the work of Patricia Highsmith, doyenne of the conspicuously amoral.”Brigitte

Product Details

  • File Size: 1611 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Nan A. Talese (May 20, 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972,753 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a so-so novel May 20, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
In Decompression by Juli Zeh, Sven and his girlfriend, who left Germany years ago, have a deep sea diving business on the island of Lanzarote. They cater to the tourists who come to visit. When two new customers, German tourists, show up, Sven finds himself attracted to the woman, Jola von der Pahlen, an actress on a soap opera. Her older boyfriend, Theo Hast, is a writer who feels he is superior to everyone around him.

The story is told from Sven's point of view and through Jola's diary entries. Clearly there is a cat and mouse game going on, but no one seems to know the reason behind it or how high the stakes are going to go. Although it does have a few elements of a psychological thriller, this is more of a character study of jealousy and lies with some abuse thrown into the mix.

Decompression by Juli Zeh is a so-so novel for me. While it is well written, I think it may have lost some of the flow of the original German. But even more than that, I detested every single loathsome character in this book, which made it hard to care what happened to them, no matter how intriguing the set up or exotic the local.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday for review purposes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psychological intrigue (4.25*s) May 18, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This gripping story of deception, infatuation, and malice occurs on the Canary Islands where Sven Fiedler, a forty-year-old exile from Germany, runs a laid-back diving instructional school with his long-time girlfriend Antje. But their idyllic situation receives a jolt with the arrival of German TV soap star Jola von der Pahlen and her older, writer boyfriend Theo Hast. The high fee they pay for exclusive access to Sven’s services hardly compensates for the developments over the next two weeks.

Sven and Antje have a great relationship, but Jola’s stunning beauty and her provocative posturing go hardly unnoticed by Sven. By the second dive, Sven and Jola have already moved beyond the formalities of teacher and student. Sven seems to be troubled with what is happening, but in alternate chapters Jola’s much different interpretations of events are viewed in the pages of her daily journal entries. And then there is Theo, who seems oddly passive/aggressive and cynical concerning Jola’s actions and effects on men. Theirs is a puzzling love-hate relationship.

It is difficult to grasp the characters because of all of the psychological game playing that seems to be occurring. The author keeps the tension high as there is a growing instability among all of these characters that is certain to end ignominiously. Sven’s desire to escape the intrigues of German society fourteen years earlier is now proving to be an exercise in futility.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was looking for. April 25, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Sven Fiedler, a young lawyer has fled the turmoil of a legal career in modern Germany for the simpler lifestyle of a deep-sea diving instructor tucked away on Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands. His girlfriend Antje lives with him to take of the business and catering end of the concern.

I wanted to like this story. The locale is beautiful in its own harsh way and the characters seemed comfortable yet interesting. However, when a beautiful actress and her writer boyfriend show up for exclusive and intensive diving instructions, Sven’s life suddenly becomes exceedingly complicated and the tone of the novel becomes ugly. The diving instructor is besotted by the beauty and sexuality of his young student, and it isn’t long before both Antje and the writer begin to be suspicious of their relationship.

While the novel is well written, there is a great deal of strong sexual language and some gratuitous sex scenes. Some of the scenes are written from the point of view of both Sven and the young actress and soon it becomes difficult to know which of the two characters is telling the truth. As the tension builds, it isn’t long before the reader becomes aware that something tragic will soon take place.

While the plot is certainly gripping, because of the language and the story line I didn't really enjoy the book. But that is my strictly personal opinion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everybody knows you are having an affair but you June 17, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I am glad I did not read previous reviews for this book. I loved it. I just knew somebody was going to die, but I could not figure out which character. The tropical isle setting is so enticing. I would love to leave my life behind and find a an uncluttered beach life. The allure of the diving school, albeit with a sinister element of undersea danger, puts me on edge. My sensors are tingling as the mismatched German couple arrives for lessons. The almost has-been soap star and the writer whose muse has left him, publicly abuse each other and set up the dive instructor. He is such a sap for her beauty and sexual overtones. I really thought one of them would kill him if not each other. The person with the most undetected secret when it all plays out, however, is the instructor's girlfriend. I was cheering, good for her! The author gives us suspense, intrigue, dishonesty, mental unbalance, graphic sex, and an unexpected ending. That's enough for a good read for me. I can see this brought to the screen too. The visual component is strong. I highly recommend this read. My thanks to Goodreads and the author for a complimentary copy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a psychological thriller, but it was well written.
I liked some portions of this book, which I did not think was a psychological mystery, and other portions were not very interesting to me as I have no knowledge of diving, which... Read more
Published 1 month ago by asiana
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice slow boil of a novel and a quick read.
Sort of like a German version of Rashoman set in the diving culture off of the Canary Islands.

Sven and his wife, Antje, host diving and vacation tours on their tiny... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ray J. Palen Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting character study with psychological intrigue and sexual...
Based on other reviews here on Amazon, the novel Decompression is not for everyone. But I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I'm glad I read it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jim
4.0 out of 5 stars Intrigue with a twist
I thought this was an unusual, but highly readable, novel of intrigue and sexual tension. As an American I found it fascinating to read about the situation from a German... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Luckyclucker
3.0 out of 5 stars Some parts of the book were really good, others just barely average
I have mixed feeling about this book, parts of it were really good, others were barely average, but the total was a good drama, but not a great drama, so not highly recommended,... Read more
Published 5 months ago by realnaynay
2.0 out of 5 stars Review of Decompression
This is not going to be a long review. To be honest, it's been two months since I read DECOMPRESSION by Juli Zeh and the most excitement I can gather when I think of it is a mild,... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lydia
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
A bit predictable. I had the plot half way through but entertaining none the less
Published 6 months ago by Yvonne Cronin
4.0 out of 5 stars A Threesome
I was caught up in the mention of Partcia Highsmith's mention in the promotional material. It isn't so far off but not exactly accurate, I would compare it more to Polanski's film,... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lynn Ellingwood
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow developing...
This seems to be more of a character study than a psychological thriller. It only develops interest when Joli's journal entries begin differing with the narrator's story. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Neal Reynolds
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