Cover image for The depths of the sea
The depths of the sea
Metzl, Jamie Frederic.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
243 pages ; 22 cm
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It's 1979 and Morgan O'Reilly, a dispirited CIA desk officer, is desperately trying to bury his memories. Sent to Cambodia as a Marine and then as a CIA operative during the Vietnam War, he had been given the unlikely task of pulling together a secret spy unit of orphaned street children. At the end of the war, he was only able to get one child out of the country, his surrogate son, Sophal. Years later, Sophal, now a CIA agent, disappears on a secret mission in the Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand.
Tom Dillon, the dashing young superstar of the White House foreign policy staff, asks O'Reilly to find Sophal and bring him home. O'Reilly's search takes him deeper and deeper into the politics of the Thai-Cambodian border and finally into the deadly Khmer Rouge zone - a place where all foreigners are forbidden from entering and where cruelty and death are omnipresent.
Filled with the fascinating workings of the refugee camps, the life or death politics of Washington, DC, and the inner workings of the personalities that are drawn to such extreme circumstances, The Depths of the Sea is a thriller that both entertains and educates.

Author Notes

Jamie Metzl has served on the National Securtiy Council at the White House, in the State Department, and as a United Nations Human Rights Officer in Cambodia. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and holds a Ph.D. in Southeast Asian history from Oxford University. A marathon runner and Ironman triathlete, he lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Thailand, 1979. A CIA agent vanishes while on a top-secret mission involving Cambodian refugee camps. Only one man can hope to find him: Morgan O'Reilly, a desk officer at the agency who ran a spy network of street orphans in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. At the end of the war, O'Reilly was able to get only one child out of Cambodia: Sophal, who grew up to be a CIA agent and who is now missing in Thailand. Metzl, an expert in contemporary Asian history who worked in Cambodia as a human-rights officer, is really telling two stories here: a CIA agent searches for a missing comrade, and a father searches for his (surrogate) son. The author's expertise--in Washington politics and in the refugee camps--gives the novel an air of realism that few similarly themed thrillers can match. And here's a bonus: Metzl can write. This isn't some detail-intensive tome produced by an expert with no literary skills; it's a vibrant, well-paced novel. Fans of spy thrillers won't want to miss it. --David Pitt Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in war-torn Cambodia in the 1970s, this distinctive debut spy novel tells a riveting tale of honor, political deception and moral responsibility. In 1971, CIA officer Morgan O'Reilly, 27, takes on a strange assignment: he's required to amass a contingent of undercover spies from the resourceful "ragged children" of the Phnom Penh streets. His ragtag group turns out to be surprisingly successful, and they become as much a family as a team. Young, astute orphan Sophal comes closest to O'Reilly's heart and gratefully teaches him Cambodian slang and various street smarts, but when the Americans abandon the area, O'Reilly must leave his kids behind-all except Sophal, now 18, who is spirited back to the States and enrolled in CIA field school. Eight years later, depressed, desk-bound O'Reilly is dispatched back to Cambodia by hotshot CIA officer Tom Dillon to investigate the sudden disappearance of Sophal, who has since climbed the ranks of the CIA and recently been assigned to the Thai-Cambodian border. As O'Reilly scours the refugee camps unsuccessfully, he encounters several humanitarian aid workers whose stories become bound up with his. When his search lands everyone deep within the treacherous Khmer Rouge border zone, the real reasons O'Reilly has been sent to Cambodia become harrowingly clear. Based on his personal experiences working in Cambodia, Metzl has crafted a thrilling, authentically atmospheric tale. Though the gloomy storm clouds of international politics hover incessantly, this suspenseful, tightly plotted novel makes for a luminous debut. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved