“Submergence” by J.M. Ledgard / Monday, April 29, 2013 / Reviewed by Clay Stafford

Today’s featured book is Submergence by J.M. Ledgard

J. M. Ledgard’s “Submergence” has figuratively grabbed me by the…neck.  Every few months I read a book like this and it just blows me away.  This novel hit me in the gut.

The story is from the points-of-view of two characters: James More, a spy, and Danielle Flinders, a biomathematician.  These are two lovers – still in a long-distance relationship – who look back on their liaison while in the throws of their present lives with no knowledge of the turns the life of the other has taken.  She is diving into the depths of the ocean never seen by man.  He is in the depths of captivity as a hostage of al-Qaeda in Somalia.  Both are of different worlds: she entitled, him divided, both obsessed.

This is a beautiful and heart-rending story, full of images, feelings, facts, and history highlighting circumstances and religious politics at odds with the human spirit (and even common sense).  It is how nations with their masters of politics and religions easily flip away the lives and freedoms of their citizens for their own gain, these same citizens who give their love and service freely only to find their life to their country is worth nothing, not even sometimes acknowledgement.

At first you think this is written in a stream-of-consciousness reflection of the characters’ nonlinear thoughts, but what you find by the end is a beautifully assembled plot that has taken you down your own stream without your knowledge of how you ravishingly got there.  J. M. Ledgard’s choices are perfect for conflict – both subtle and grand.

Some are calling this a love story.  It is not.  It is a tragic, dramatic, on-the-edge of your seat story of two people who look back on their relationship in order to sustain their mentality in the incongruity of their present.  There are no stereotypes or formulas here, no pure evil, no pure good.  It is educational.  The intrinsic history of Somalia is interwoven dramatically into the story.  You leave the book learning much about Somalia, other worlds, terrorists, and what the future holds, how sometimes maybe we should look down instead of always looking up.

Muslim Islamic terrorists play a large role here as the captors, and why not?  This is a book about the underworld and things that feed on death.  I’ve read other reviewers and they dance around the al-Qaeda obvious.  Ledgard plays them fairly, striving to help us understand their mentality, but as for this American reader, I found myself not feeling sympathy for these violent individuals dreaming of taking over the world while sitting in their own dung under the Mangrove trees hiding from the U.S.  It made me want to get up from reading and go pee on Osama bin Laden’s watery and justified grave.  It is a British book that will make you proud to be an American, remember why you are an American, and make you wish for the same American vehemence worldwide as in Somalia in 2006.  You will bristle at the vile and ill-conceived mentality of the jihad Muslims (it is not stupidity, but desperation).  You’ll learn about Somalia – what was a beautiful country – now nasty with nasty desperate men, subjected women, and a warped nasty view of religion, an outdated and unchanged Middle East pre-Christ replica where the value of women, children, and – in this case – non-Muslims means nothing.  You are also left – shame on us – with insight into why jihad fighters are so successful when they should not by logic be.

But there is an upside.  For every negative J. M. Ledgard observes, for every diatribe he inspires, he also enchantingly balances it with a positive so you are left, not depressed, not seeing only the bad, but seeing the unsatisfactory as a stepping stone to the good.  It is a book not about what is wrong with this world, but what is right.  It is our thinking that is wrong.  This is a wonderful book for remembering how something as simple as water can unite people, how precious the peaceful moments of our lives are and how we don’t value them usually until they are gone, and how – sometimes – when things are at their worst, maybe it is because we are looking at the wrong things.

This is a wonderful thriller with a message.  It is not preachy.  It is acted out by the characters flawlessly.  You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, but you will be changed after reading this book.  You will not be able to forget it after you read it, even if you want to.  It’s that haunting.

– Clay Stafford is an author / filmmaker and founder of Killer Nashville. Stafford’s latest projects are the documentary “One of the Miracles” and the music CD “XO”.

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Remember that these books are listed at a discount through Amazon. You also don’t have to purchase the version that is featured here. Many of these books are available in multiple formats: e–book, hardcover, softcover, and audio. Enjoy!