Through Waters Deep

Book 1 in the Waves of Freedom Series

Publication Date: August 2015

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood.

Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge.

When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.

Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and romantic story.

Behind-the-scenes video showing the cover photo shoot for Through Waters Deep. Photography from Brandon Hill Photos.


[Open] [Close]

*Starred Review!* “Working with a large cast of characters and an intricate and dramatic plot, Sundin brilliantly builds tension between American isolationists and interventionists. The first in her Waves of Freedom series is a compelling story with references to naval history, Nancy Drew, and the era’s chivalrous dating etiquette, making it an optimal hybrid of 1940s crime and romance. Readers will be struck by the thoughtfulness and care Sundin brings to every thread in this chilling story as they are swept up into exciting plot twists leading to an exciting climax.”

* 4 ½ Stars! * Sundin’s latest is full of exciting intrigue, set right before the United States enters World War II. Although readers well-versed in history will know what is coming, that doesn’t detract from the author’s ability to build suspense and explore the era from different angles. Sundin gives just the right amount of romance to balance out the drama.

*Starred Review!* “Providing readers with an immersive experience, Sundin vividly re-creates the atmosphere of a country on the brink of entering World War II. The tender romance at the story’s center keeps readers rooting for Jim and Mary to realize their true feelings for each other.”

“Sundin, exhibiting her usual flair for 1940s history and setting, will delight WWII buffs with this Waves of Freedom series opener.”

History Behind the Story

[Open] [Close]
My grandfather, Frederick Stewart, at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, April 1944.
What inspired Through Waters Deep?

Jim and Mary’s love story was inspired by the simple romantic notion of two good friends slowly falling in love.

The action plotlines were inspired by the fascinating history of the two-year period when the United States remained neutral in World War II. I was intrigued by the escalating tensions between isolationists and interventionists, combined with the little-told story of America’s undeclared war in the Battle of the Atlantic. Also, since my grandfather, Frederick K. Stewart, served in the Navy as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in World War II, I’ve longed to tell a Navy story.

Park Street Church, Boston, MA (Photo: Sarah Sundin, July 2014)
Park Street Church, Boston, MA (Photo: Sarah Sundin, July 2014)
In Through Waters Deep, which people and places are real, and which are fictional?

All locations are real, with the exception of Dixon’s Drugs. Also, the place names in Boston date from the 1940s—thus, the Boston Navy Yard instead of the current Charlestown Navy Yard, the “El” or the “subway” instead of the “T,” and the subway station names.

Park Street Church is still an active congregation, and I was blessed to worship there in July 2014. In the novel, the choir activities and pageant are fictional. Please see my blog post for more pictures!

All characters are fictional, except for Dr. Harold Ockenga, pastor of Park Street Church, Rear Adm. William T. Tarrant, commandant of the Boston Navy Yard, and other historical figures.

Logo of the isolationist America First Committee and poster from the interventionist Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.
Which events are real, and which are fictional?

While there are no known incidents of sabotage at the Boston Navy Yard or on any US ships during the war, the plot reflects the extreme tension and unrest in the USA at the time. In a fireside chat on 26 May 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt warned of “fifth columnists,” those who destroy a nation from within by sabotage or espionage or defeatist attitudes. The next day, the FBI received 2700 reports of suspected spies or saboteurs.

The Duquesne Spy Ring was real, with 33 German spies arrested by the FBI on June 29, 1941. All would be convicted and imprisoned.

The isolationist America First Committee was real, as was aviator Charles Lindbergh’s involvement with the group. Although the rally on Boston Common was fictional, it’s modeled after many similar events.

The USS Atwood and the USS Ettinger are fictional ships, but the situation in the Atlantic in 1941 is accurate, including the incident with the USS Greer, the torpedoing of the USS Kearny, the sinking of the USS Reuben James, and the sinkings of five American merchant ships—all before Pearl Harbor. Likewise, the United States occupied Iceland in July of 1941 and began escorting Allied North Atlantic convoys in September. Task Unit 4.1.5 was real, but I replaced the real destroyer USS Mayo with the fictional USS Atwood for story purposes.

With the nation spiraling to war, the battle between isolationists and interventionists remained heated until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

I’d love to see a dry dock being flooded!

I was tickled when the Charlestown Navy Yard flooded Dry Dock 1 on 17 May 2015, in preparation for the restoration of the USS Constitution, and they took plenty of pictures and videos. In this short time-lapse video, you can see the flooding and the removal of the caisson, with the Constitution waiting. (USS Constitution Museum)

Statue of Paul Revere on Paul Revere Mall in Boston, with Old North Church in the background, July 2014. (Photo: Sarah Sundin)
Statue of Paul Revere on Paul Revere Mall in Boston, with Old North Church in the background, July 2014. (Photo: Sarah Sundin)
Do you have photos to share from your research trip to Boston?
Sarah Sundin by the 5-inch gun mount on destroyer USS Cassin Young, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, July 2014 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)
Sarah Sundin by the 5-inch gun mount on destroyer USS Cassin Young, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, July 2014 (Photo: Sarah Sundin)
Do you have pictures of destroyers and the equipment on board?

Please see my blog posts, where I share pictures from my tours of Fletcher-class destroyer USS Cassin Young (Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, MA), Gearing-class destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy (Battleship Cove, Fall River, MA), and equipment on battleships USS Massachusetts (Battleship Cove, Fall River, MA) and USS Iowa (Long Beach, CA).

Part 1: Topside

Part 2: Below Decks

Part 3: Gunnery

Forget the ships! I want the recipe for Mary’s Boston Cream Pie!

I don’t blame you. It’s yummy. My super-talented author buddy Marci Seither did a fun video and photo shoot of me making Boston cream pie – with the recipe on her blog! Enjoy.

A Free Gift for You

Make It Do - The US Home Front in World War II

When you subscribe to my monthly enewsletter, you’ll also receive “Make It Do – The US Home Front in World War II,” a collection of my popular blog posts. As a subscriber, you’ll also be the first to learn about my upcoming novels.

Thank you for subscribing!