The Deep: Inexperience leads to trouble

Jaws author Peter Benchley returned to the bestseller list in 1976 with The Deep, a more exotic and less frightening novel.

Dust jacket cover of "The Deep" shows sky and sea in dark shades of blue.
A woman in a bikini is in The Deep.

Newly-weds David and Gail Sanders have come to Bermuda to do some diving. Both have done some diving, but neither is experienced enough to know how to keep out of trouble.

On their first dive, they find several items that appear to have come the shipwrecked Goliath, including a small glass ampule containing liquid. No one can—or will—tell them what it might be, but someone claiming to be a glass collector offers them $50 for the ampule.

They won’t sell: They don’t like his attitude.

They seek help from Romer Treece, a local wreck recovery expert with long experience and scant patience with inexperienced know-it-alls like David.

Treece discovers their finds are authentic and dangerous: The cargo on the Goliath is worth millions to the wrong people.

As he did in Jaws, Benchley infuses his thriller with information. Here, through Treece, he talks about everything from the habits of moray eels to 18th century Spanish history and techniques for researching shipwrecks.

And through Treece, Benchley tells know-it-alls like David how to grow up:

A lot of people want to prove something to themselves, and when they do something they think’s impressive, then they’re impressed themselves. The mistake is, what you do isn’t the same as what you are. …

The feeling’s a lot richer when you do something right, when you know something has to be done and you know what you’re doing, and then you do something hairy.

The Deep by Peter Benchley
Doubleday, 1976. 301 p.
1976 bestseller #5. My grade: A-

Published by

Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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