Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mark of the Devil-William Kerr

Mark of the Devil
William Kerr
Medallion, Feb 2009, $15.95
ISBN: 9781934755532

In 1945 off the Florida coast, U-Boat Korvettenkapitan Strobel is irate with the defeat and decides to go for one last kill. SS Standartenfuhrer Kreuger wants him to stay with their mission and ignore the nearby tanker. Strobel fires at the tanker leading to two destroyers dropping depth bombs on the sub. Kreuger congratulates him for insuring they are “buried alive” after the war in Europe is already over.

In 2009 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, the Coast Guard asks Steve Park to mark with buoys where a barge was sunk by a storm to keep ships safe. Steve asks his visiting friend North American Archeological Research and Preservation Association Naval Special Warfare officer Matt Berkeley to help. At sea they find the barge, but also another vessel. They submit the proper paperwork to the State, but wealthy Henry Shoemaker as a favor to his much younger wife, whose grandfather left her information about the sunken ship, arranges with his brother-in-law at the Florida office on oceanic recoveries and his Antiquities Finders Inc to steal the excavation. To make matters worse, two friends of Matt, whom he visited in DC to give copies of his application to search the unknown ship he and Steve found, are murdered by an agent of Shoemaker. As Berkeley refuses to back down from AFI, Shoemaker, the State of Florida and the cops, he wonders what the valuable item is on the sub sunk after the war was over that everyone wants; the finding if revealed would humiliate the Catholic Church.

MARK OF THE DEVIL is an intriguing oceanic archeological thriller that focuses on the abuse of power and those refusing to buckle under the pressure. Matt is a terrific hero who tries to do the right thing, but will learn the cost of his ethical stand. Although Shoemaker, his wife and their lackeys come across as caricatures, fans will appreciate this fast-paced thriller as Shoemaker and AFI bring a killer and the government to keep Matt out of the excavation.

Harriet Klausner