The Chamber
June 9, 2024

Book Review

The Chamber

reviewed by Carolyn Scott


This is a brilliantly conceived and executed murder mystery. Six deep sea divers, five men and one woman, are locked into a hyperbaric chamber for 28 days on a ship in the North Sea. There they will live, sleep, work and eat together in this claustrophobic space until it is time to be decompressed and returned to their families.

Their food, water, and other needs such as laundry, reading materials and medications will be sent into them through a special area by people there to watch over them and see they come to no harm. The divers have all done this before and have mostly worked together all over the world, so barring an accident they are not expecting any surprises. However, when first one diver dies in his sleep and then another, they know there is either a murderer amongst them or someone on the ship is harming them.

I loved that Will Dean took a deep dive into the detail of what it is like to be a deep-sea saturation diver, one who dives to the deepest levels and so must spend long periods in a cramped hyperbaric chamber with several others, since it takes too long to decompress. For most of us who know little of what is involved in this type of diving the glossary at the start of the book is very helpful in understanding the terms used. I had never really appreciated just how dangerous it is to work at those depths and how the divers are totally reliant on each other for their safety in preventing even the slightest mistake that could lead to catastrophic death. The claustrophobia of the chamber was palpable as was the need for constant cleaning, necessary to prevent bacterial growth and illness in the humid conditions.

The events are seen from the point of view of the only female diver on board, Ellen Brooke. We come to know her well through her reflections on her life with her husband and children and the difficulties she has had to overcome to prove herself as a female diver in an industry almost entirely populated by men.

The suspense builds gradually as the scene is set and we get to know each of the divers through the stories they tell of previous dives and exploits on shore. Towards the end the tension is near boiling point and the reader can be forgiven for wondering if anyone will come out alive. Even once the boat is back in port the divers are totally cut off from the outside. With none of their usual access to wifi and newspapers they have no idea what the police are doing or thinking and paranoia sets in with suspicion directed at each other. The superb ending is cleverly done and will have the reader questioning everything they have read, resulting in a totally gripping and addictively heart pounding thriller.

With thanks to Atria Books via Netgalley for a copy to read.

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