From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this gripping account, Finch (F2F
) narrates a disastrous attempt to recover a body nearly 900 feet underwater in a South African crater named Bushman's Hole. David Shaw, an Australian pilot for Cathay Pacific, became obsessed with diving in his early 40s and quickly became a world-class deep diver. In South Africa, Shaw trained with renowned diving instructor Don Shirley, and the two men grew close. Shirley was a proponent of diving rebreathers, sophisticated pieces of equipment that allow divers to reach greater depths while using less equipment. In 2004, Shaw dove to the bottom of Bushman's Hole, where he discovered the corpse of a diver that had lain there for a decade. Together, Shaw and Shirley decided to try to raise the body. Finch seamlessly weaves together the various strands of his story, from the character biographies to the dangers and arcane technologies of deep diving. An experienced cave diver himself, Finch brings the reader into a strange and hermetic underworld that few have ever experienced firsthand. In deep diving, he demonstrates, even the smallest breakdown in judgment or equipment will bring catastrophe. Although the outcome is never in doubt, Finch manages to build suspense to fevered intensity. (Oct.)
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In January 2005, extreme diver David Shaw entered Bushman’s Hole, a watery crater in the Kalahari Desert. Easing himself through a narrow fissure, he aimed himself at the bottom of the crater, roughly 900 feet below him. Soon after, his diving partner, Don Shirley, followed Shaw down. In less than an hour, one of the men was dead, and the other faced a harrowing 10-hour decompression, during which he scrambled for every breath. This is a dramatic and emotional story, vividly told by journalist and diver Finch (who really makes us feel what it must have been like, spending 10 hours wondering if he would run out of air before he made it to safety). The author explores not just the episode he’s writing about, but also the sport of diving: its factions, its superstars, its history. A solid addition to the sport-diving genre. --David Pitt