Book Reviews

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“This SF thriller starts out well and displays some nice touches of humor … Clarke, a veteran Navy diving scientist, is especially effective in translating his expertise into fiction in the gripping opening chapter, as an unusual incident claims the lives of two divers off the coast of Alabama. Someone, or something, ripped the helmet off one of the men; the other died of the bends after he saw some “bizarre, bright orange geometric figures” who conveyed a cryptic apology. The mystery of the divers’ deaths, and a slew of other oddities—a patch of cold dark water that kills everything in its path, an extraterrestrial unidentified submerged object—engage scientist Jason Parker. He begins to experience some anomalies himself, including hearing voices advising him to stay alert. There are some light moments; Jason can’t believe that a colleague is “from another planet, especially not a planet of telepathic frogs.” — Publishers Weekly (Booklife)


“Odd disappearances and deaths, UFOs, and incredible deep-sea technology threaten to submerge naval scientist Jason Parker in alien intrigue.

In James Cameron’s cinematic blockbuster The Abyss, the nail-biting tale of undersea disaster and deep-water military jeopardy took a sudden detour into being an alien-first-contact epic. Clarke’s sci-fi techno-thriller debut isn’t too far from Cameron’s original release, though Clarke more neatly flays those different genres … Jason Parker is a stalwart U.S. Navy scientist and pilot who, from the air, witnesses what appears to be a UFO splashdown off Florida. Thanks to his expertise, timing, and perhaps a bit of predestination, Parker is on the scene for a series of mysterious deaths among deep-water divers as well as the recovery of an incredible new Russian weapon, a supersonic torpedo. The Tom Clancy–esque gizmo turns out to be a bit of a red herring for the actual secret pursued by semiruthless operatives of the U.S. government. Experiments in psychic “remote viewing” have revealed the existence of intelligence and phenomena not quite of this Earth, hidden in the abyssal depths of the Marianas Trench and the Gulf of Mexico. Parker, who begins hearing voices and glimpsing “shadow people,” finds himself and pretty young oceanography student Laura Smith stalked by, if not Men in Black, then at least Men in Green. The author, an expert in scuba and marine minutiae, knows how to tell a good tale while also measuring the specs of a rebreather apparatus; he even tosses in some real-life ufological lore about which paranormalists have been howling for some time. But rather than filching from Whitley Strieber or other usual suspects, he gives the creatures his own Rod Serling–esque spin (for quite a few chapters, the rationalist hero dismisses the toadlike aliens as hallucinations). … The story flows nicely and doesn’t anchor itself to the ballast of too much technical jargon. Bonus points for salutes to Fortean Times magazine and the fairy tale of “The Frog Prince.”

A buoyant undersea-alien yarn that’d make an awesome beach read.” — Kirkus Reviews


“Dip into the surreal world of MIDDLE WATERS and discover what an extraordinarily fine adventure John Clarke has given us: a techno science fiction thriller that is at once mercilessly grounded in what we know of our physical world, yet explores our dreamtime fears about the nature of the alien unknowable. It’s part of a tradition that spans Jules Verne to James Cameron, and Clarke—a diving scientist who has studied all of the ways that calamity stalks the conceited, the careless, and the unlucky in the unforgiving deep—writes with authority. His encyclopedic knowledge of the hidden ocean world, combined with his gift for storytelling, has given us a novel that is unlike any other. It’s the story of a brilliant man, a scientist named Jason Parker, who confronts something that not only challenges his core beliefs, but threatens to destroy them. In a way, it’s the story of all of us, hurtling headlong into the mysterious future. It’s a book I wish I’d written. It’s a book that I will read time and again, and always find something fresh.”— Max McCoy; Novelist, Journalism Professor, Diver

“A promising first book by author, John Clarke, MIDDLE WATERS is a leap into a thriller unlike anything you’ve read before. Our hero, Parker, is a skeptical but incurably curious Navy scientist who pursues clues into an alien underwater world filled with danger and …ET aliens. His own government becomes the enemy as he finds himself more and more embroiled in a tangled intrigue that will satisfy believers and non-believers in extraterrestrial life, alike. This is a page-turner that will take you through the depths of the Marianas Trench, and into the air for two plane crashes. … There is also Laura, an adventurous and unpretentiously lovely graduate student, as a love interest. At stake: the survival of the aliens, and human life on earth itself. Don’t start this read at bedtime if you plan to get any sleep!” — Rachel Scott; Author, Physician, Journalist


A Goodread’s review from an engineer: “A friend of mine, a fellow science and engineering type recommended this book and raved at how good it is; so I bought the book. The author has done an amazing job at weaving his experience in naval technology, military protocol, deep sea research, and flying experience with the numerous UFO reports over the past few decades into a story that masterfully unfolds, enabling the reader to suspend disbelief and get into the lives of the characters. I found myself googling technology topics discussed in the book and found just how amazingly out of date I am in Naval technology. Verifying the veracity of technological topics he introduces greatly helped in suspending disbelief and getting thoroughly immersed in the story. It’s a page turner– hated putting it down and couldn’t wait to get back to it. I totally loved this book and look forward to Clarke’s future works!” — John Gandy

“What do you get when a Navy scientist cum amateur pilot with a Jules Verne-sized imagination decides to apply his considerable writing chops to fiction? A fast-paced SciFi thriller replete with SEALS, spooks and an arsenal of cutting edge subsea technology— from SIVA rebreathers and supercavitating Shkval torpedoes to remote sensing, null wave signaling and superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDS). There’s no doubt that John Clarke is deep in his element and his nerdy humor sweetens the ride. Did I mention aliens? That is, of course, precisely what Clarke’s self-styled protagonist Jason Parker must figure out. “Middle Waters” captured my imagination and surprised me all the way to the epilogue. I just didn’t want to put it down.” — Michael Menduno, former publisher of Aqua Corps magazine 

“…the book was like a track sprint. Bang and you are off the block and running. The book had a great distribution of drama, suspense, scientific facts, humor, spirituality and passion. I believe it is a book that touches on age old questions and tempts answers. You will be very entertained during the reading of this one.” — Charlie Nichols, Engineer

“I have been having problems sitting down to read a book for several years. I haven’t found a book interesting enough to keep my attention. However, the first few pages of “Middle Waters ” made it impossible to put down the book. The author cast his bait into the emerald green water of the Gulf and had me hook, line, and sinker. After having lived on the Florida Panhandle and worked with the military at NSA, “Middle Waters” made me feel like I was experiencing everything with the characters in this book. Knowing that a lot of the plot is more fact than fiction, made it even more interesting. John Clarke, the author, is able to incorporate facts and myths we have heard all our lives. This book is highly recommended for all readers to experience the realization that everything is not as it seems. Anyone that loves reading, about strange, unusual, and even factual legends, will not be able to stop reading. I am looking forward to the next page turning novel by John Clarke, and you should be too.” — Jimma Wise

“ …reminded me of some of the early Tom Clancy books…had as many twists and turns as any mountain road.”  — Bob DeFurio, Engineer

“I was enthralled and fascinated. Good smooth read and ….. next time you go there – take me with you. It was as if the book was speaking directly to me.” — Steve Matthews, retired Navy saturation diver.  

“Great! I try to figure out the ending of books before I get there and usually can. This time I was pleasantly surprised.” — Goodread’s reader

“Loved this book – It’s a science fiction thriller and great beach read! For men also! My husband and nephew loved it! If you live in the Panhandle of Florida you will recognize a lot of local color! Also a great read for divers!” — Nancy Hicks, Government Librarian

“Prepare for adventures from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of outer space, and everywhere in-between! Middle Waters offers excitement and intrigue to readers of all types…”

“I really enjoyed this book. A science-fiction storyline that is made extremely real with Mr. Clarke’s knowledge of military/civilian government operations. This was one of those books that I had a tough time putting down and one that I could not wait until I had some free time to resume reading and find out what happened. This book kept my attention and was entertaining from beginning to end.” I won this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. What a great program and I thank all those that made it possible for me to have a copy of this well written book.” — Chad, Goodreads reader





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