By Juli Zeh
Nan A. Talese, Hardcover, 9780385537582, 272pp.
Publication Date: May 20, 2014
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-weekdiving experience. Staying in a guest house on Sven and Antje's property, the two visitors and their hosts quickly become embroiled in atangle 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.
"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
"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