Set mostly in contemporary Somalia, SUBMERGENCE by J.M. Ledgard tells the story of a covert British intelligence officer and his brief affair with a Martiniquean deep sea mathematician. Yes, that’s right: deep sea biological mathematics, plunging into the unseen, unknowable depths of the Atlantic. Equal parts love story, political thriller, and intellectual foray into biomathetics, SUBMERGENCE is the first book in years I have bought without knowing anything about it whatsoever. I had not heard of it, nor had I heard of its author, and yet one day I found myself looking at it in the bookstore, captivated by this unusual bio:

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J.M. Ledgard was born in the Shetland Islands. He is a thinker on risk and technology in emerging economies and a political and war correspondent for The Economist. He lives and works in Africa.

With such an interesting, varied life, it almost wouldn’t matter what the book was about, but when I read that the novel took place in contemporary Somalia within the confines of a jihadist cell, that’s all it took. I bought it right there.

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Clear, sure-handed prose. An exploration of one’s intellectual identity. With narrative overtones of “Black Hawk Dawn” and Michael Crichton’s SPHERE. Enough sex to fuel the softer plot points. Enough love to question why we fight. SUBMERGENCE is recommended for the intellectual reader who doesn’t mind a bit of romance in the text, and for anyone interested in the psychological portrayal of Islamic fundamentalists in Africa. As always, get your copy at a local independent bookstore.