The best female scuba diving thrillers and mysteries

Who am I?

My wife suggested we try scuba diving while on holiday in Grand Cayman. We were already falling in love with the island, and the incredible experience underwater opened a whole new world to us. From that moment on, our yearly travels changed completely. Our destination choices were now based upon diving opportunities. That was twenty years ago. Today, I’m a certified divemaster with dives all over the US (including Hawaii), the Caribbean (including Cuba), Australia, and even Iceland. Throw in my sense of adventure as a former race car driver, motorcycle rider, and outdoor adventurer, and I had plenty of personal experiences to create the AJ Bailey series.

I wrote...

Twelve Mile Bank

By Nicholas Harvey,

Book cover of Twelve Mile Bank

What is my book about?

A mysterious shipwreck. A ruthless treasure hunter. A race against time. Cayman Islands divemaster AJ Bailey is searching for a long-forgotten WWII U-boat at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. Armed with nothing more than an adventurous spirit and her late grandfather’s tale, she's determined to find the submarine and the secret it protects.

My first novel was a passion project. The old adage says "write what you know…" so that’s what I did. Blending my love of scuba diving, the Cayman Islands, and WWII history, Twelve Mile Bank became one woman’s quest to rediscover a lost U-boat. But amongst the action, the story’s backbone is AJ’s touching relationship with her late grandfather, and his captivating stories which fuel her search.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Girl Beneath the Sea

Why did I love this book?

I’d already written several books in my AJ Bailey series when Girl beneath the Sea came out. With the might of a large publisher behind the book it hit best-seller lists and proved to me that I was writing books with a subject matter appealing to a broad audience.

Mayne’s protagonist, Sloan McPherson, is a police diver in Florida, who takes cases much farther than her role suggests. She’s an imperfect person with baggage and problems, but her gutsy determination drives the stories forward.

I dive into each new book in the series on the day they’re released.

By Andrew Mayne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Girl Beneath the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Amazon Charts bestseller.

For a Florida police diver, danger rises to the surface in an adventurous thriller by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Naturalist.

Coming from scandalous Florida treasure hunters and drug smugglers, Sloan McPherson is forging her own path, for herself and for her daughter, out from under her family’s shadow. An auxiliary officer for Lauderdale Shores PD, she’s the go-to diver for evidence recovery. Then Sloan finds a fresh kill floating in a canal―a woman whose murky history collides with Sloan’s. Their troubling ties are making Sloan less a potential witness than a suspect.…

Book cover of Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves

Why did I love this book?

Okay, so Deep isn’t specifically about women, or scuba diving – it tackles freediving – but includes females and anyone who loves diving in any form should read this book. The meticulous research into the physiology and psychology of human beings underwater is simply fascinating. Nestor ventures off into all kinds of territory, from octopus intelligence; to whales conversing; to humans holding a single breath for an inhuman amount of time.

Freediving is the common theme in the book, but it is far more than that. This is an in-depth study of life beneath the waves from an intriguing perspective.

By James Nestor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the international Bestseller Breath

Covering a diving championship in Greece on a hot and sticky assignment for Outside magazine, James Nestor discovered free diving. He had stumbled on one of the most extreme sports in existence: a quest to extend the frontiers of human experience, in which divers descend without breathing equipment, for hundreds of feet below the water, for minutes after they should have died from lack of oxygen. Sometimes they emerge unconscious, or bleeding from the nose and ears, and sometimes they don't come up at all.

The free divers were Nestor's way into…

Deep Shadow

By Nick Sullivan,

Book cover of Deep Shadow

Why did I love this book?

Nick has become a good friend, we’ve collaborated on several projects, and dropped our characters into each other’s books. But before all that, I read Deep Shadow. I’d already published a few books in my AJ Bailey series and was excited to find a fellow dive enthusiast with a taste for adventure and mystery.

Nick’s Emily Durand character is a fun-loving dive guide, boat captain, and powerhouse packed into a petite frame. She and AJ were destined to be friends!

By Nick Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Deep Shadow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, something lethal is on the move.

Scuba divers travel from all over the world to visit the little island of Bonaire, with its crystal-clear waters and a host of beautiful marine life. After three years in the “Diver's Paradise”, divemaster Boone Fischer thought he’d seen it all; but on a routine afternoon dive, he spots something that will turn his tranquil life upside down.

From the arid shores of the ABC Islands to the tropical jungles of Venezuela—from the ocean depths of the Southern Caribbean, to the lush islands of the Northern Leewards,…

Book cover of Swimming with the Dead: An Underwater Investigation

Why did I love this book?

Kathy’s series – which I wish she’d continue one day – inspired me to include my passion for scuba diving in my novels. Her main character, Hannah Sampson, is a member of the Denver Underwater CSI team, who’s asked to help the police in the British Virgin Islands investigate a case. Needless to say, she stays on the island for the following books and becomes embroiled in hair-raising cases that challenge her above and below the water.

Kathy published her series at a time when very few novels centered around diving, and certainly didn’t include a female protagonist. I found her work transported me to the islands, and enthused me to create AJ Bailey and subsequently, Nora Sommer.

By Kathy Brandt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Swimming with the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Murder runs deep in a thrilling new series.
An Underwater Investigation featuring C.S.I. diver Hannah Sampson.

Summoned to the sun-drenched beaches of the British Virgin Islands, Hannah Sampson is fully prepared to face unknowable dangers beneath the crystal-clear waters of an idyllic paradise. But the possibility of murder runs deeper and darker than the sea itself. Her police commissioner's son-an expert diver and researcher-was found dead, pinned under the submerged wreckage of a cargo ship. Whatever the victim was looking for, he found.

Whatever he found was the death of him. Now Hannah must discover for herself what lies beneath-a…

Book cover of Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver

Why did I love this book?

Jill isn’t only the world’s top female cave diver, she’s one of the best, period. What’s amazing about this book is how it reads like a hair-raising fantastical adventure tale, yet it’s all true.

I’ve dabbled in cave diving in the cenotes of Mexico, and it is certainly addictive stuff, but I can’t imagine going to the places Jill has risked her life to discover.

This could easily have been a choice in my females who kick-ass list as well!

By Jill Heinerth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Into the Planet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of the world’s most renowned cave divers, a firsthand account of exploring the earth’s final frontier: the hidden depths of our oceans and the sunken caves inside our planet

More people have died exploring underwater caves than climbing Mount Everest, and we know more about deep space than we do about the depths of our oceans. From one of the top cave divers working today—and one of the very few women in her field—Into the Planet blends science, adventure, and memoir to bring readers face-to-face with the terror and beauty of earth’s remaining unknowns and the extremes of…

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