Book Review: Death in Number Two Shaft by Steve Lewis


The unassuming grey-green cover of this slim volume doesn’t give much away regarding its contents, and I must admit that the serious-sounding title of Death in Number Two Shaft didn’t exactly draw me in at first glance.  However, once I dove into the text I realized it was a plunge into the mind of a well-spoken and witty author, and his easy-going prose quickly had me hooked.  The death of a dive buddy is the theme of the book, the guideline that keeps the narrative moving through an unexpectedly wide-ranging array of topics.

The book reads as partly a personal memoir, partly a dive travelogue about expeditions in Newfoundland, and partly a musing on the loss of a friend and the reasons why the titular accident happened in the first place.  Somehow, the author manages to weave all of these threads together into a compelling narrative, which I enjoyed.  I also appreciated his bravery for tackling a difficult and emotional subject: survivor’s guilt.

I think the book could perhaps be improved with a few pictures and a map of the Bell Island Mine and surroundings would aid visualisation. I also felt that the final quarter of the book seemed noticeably less polished, a few misplaced words jarred the flow a little in an otherwise eloquent writing style.  These points notwithstanding, Death in Number Two Shaft easily kept my interest and was a relatively quick and diverting read.

I enjoyed the author’s inside look at what an exploratory diving expedition is all about.  I also appreciated his thoughts on the reasons why people cave dive, or participate in other so-called ‘extreme’ endeavours.  The author’s love of all things underwater really shows, as does his love of Newfoundland, a diving destination that seemingly should be on more divers’ radars.

For anyone seeking a book about diving that is a little bit different than most, I highly recommend it.

Find out more about Steve at

CJ and Mike

CJ and Mike

CJ and Mike are dive instructors who have travelled all over the world pursuing their passion for the underwater world. CJ is a PADI MI and DSAT Trimix instructor with a degree in Conservation biology and ecology, who has been diving for 15 years. She loves looking for critters and pointing them out for Mike to photograph. Mike is a PADI MSDT who got back into diving in 2010. He enjoys practicing underwater photography and exploring new and exciting dive locales, occasionally with more than one tank. Follow more of their diving adventures at

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