Books by David Poyer

DEEP WAR by David Poyer
Released: Dec. 4, 2018

"So long as readers understand they'll need to buy the sequel (at least!) to learn America's fate, they'll enjoy this exciting story."
The latest hair-raising volume featuring U.S. Navy hero Dan Lenson (Tipping Point, 2015, etc.). Read full book review >
TIPPING POINT by David Poyer
Released: Dec. 8, 2015

"First-class storytelling by a master of the genre."
A hair-raising yarn of the sea and a U.S. Navy cruiser on the cusp of war. Read full book review >
THE CRUISER by David Poyer
Released: Dec. 9, 2014

"Poyer is a master of the modern sea adventure, pitting both men and women against unseen enemies and turbulent waves."
This 14th entry in the author's Dan Lenson series (The Towers, 2011, etc.) is a naval thriller featuring heroism and high-tech warfare.Read full book review >
Released: April 2, 2013

"Poyer spent a great deal of his life on the ocean, and it shows. This is a fine thriller."
Poyer's thriller takes fans on a frightening ride that will have them reaching for their Dramamine. Read full book review >
THE TOWERS by David Poyer
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

"An involving, skillfully told tale of the after-emotions of 9/11 and the internal conflicts experienced by U.S. personnel in the hunt for bin Laden."
After barely surviving the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon, and having his wife maimed while escaping the attack on the World Trade Center, U.S. Navy officer Dan Lenson reconsiders retiring and becomes embroiled in the search for Osama bin Laden. Read full book review >
KOREA STRAIT by David Poyer
Released: Dec. 10, 2007

"Well up to Poyer's excellent standards. No bluster, no dazzle, just real naval engagements that we may well see before long."
American observers sail into the thick of a vicious naval confrontation between the two Koreas. Read full book review >
THE THREAT by David Poyer
Released: Nov. 1, 2006

"A gloomy story, but Poyer remains the most thoughtful of the military-thriller set and a master of authentic detail."
Dan Lenson becomes the man with the "football"—that ever-present briefcase containing presidential nuclear codes. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2005

"Series best, and for those who see the Civil War as this country's defining drama, simply not to be missed."
The iron ships duke it out in the third of Poyer's banner Civil War at Sea cycle (Fire on the Waters, 2001; A Country of Our Own, 2003). Read full book review >
THE COMMAND by David Poyer
Released: June 14, 2004

"Poyer packs story with both dense technical info and welcome local color. Unique Aisha merits a spinoff series."
Multiple challenges face stalwart Navy lifer Dan Lenson in his first full command. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2003

"Will receive—and deserves—a warm welcome from the C.S. Forester/Patrick O'Brian audience."
Volume two of Poyer's ambitious trilogy about the Civil War at sea. Read full book review >
BLACK STORM by David Poyer
Released: June 3, 2002

"Familiar stuff, but handled well enough so that few who begin will want to stray."
Men (and a valorous woman) at war: the reliable Poyer spins another of his patented grace-under-pressure tales. Read full book review >
Released: July 5, 2001

"Poyer, a former Navy captain, knows his ships, of course, but his cast is strong besides, and his grip on the tiller of Civil War history appears reassuringly firm."
A stirring story of the Civil War—maritime style—as told by savvy veteran Poyer (China Sea, 2000, etc.) in the first of an ambitious trilogy. Read full book review >
CHINA SEA by David Poyer
Released: Feb. 1, 2000

"disagree. Poyer's fans will love it; others may prefer to reread Patrick O'Brian."
China Sea ($24.95; Feb.; 352 pp.; 0-312-20287-3): In the sixth installment of Poyer's popular Tales of the Modern Navy Read full book review >
Released: March 17, 1999

Richly entertaining melodrama about the US labor movement, reminiscent of both early Steinbeck and John Sayles's Union Dues, from the prolific author of popular naval adventures (such as The Circle, 1992) and sociopolitical thrillers (e.g., The Only Thing to Fear, 1995). The story's set in western Pennsylvania's "Petroleum City," site of the Thunder Oil Company, and a disastrous industrial accident that kills five workers and sets their surviving "brethren" against a management indifferent to cost-ineffective safety procedures—and determined to break the will of the hastily assembled union. CIO organizer (and Communist Party member) Doris Golden spearheads the struggle, abetted by sturdy, young well-driller W.T. Halvorsen (with whom she soon begins an affair). Thunder Oil's President Dan Thunner (a well-drawn and by no means simply evil character) hires cold-eyed Pinkerton man and professional strikebreaker Pearl Deatherage (a Gordon Liddy—like amoralist), thus setting in motion a smartly paced series of impassioned meetings (even Eleanor Roosevelt shows up, the time being 1936), pitched battles, and other crises, climaxing with a winner-take-all boxing match (!) between Halvorsen (who's handy with his dukes) and Thunner's carefully groomed show fighter, murderous Jack McKee. Few readers will likely resist this exhilarating nonsense, despite an abundance of clichÇs (yes, there's a turncoat who eventually finds his manhood and makes a supreme sacrifice; and Poyer does end with Halvorsen's crassly Steinbeckian vow that "as long as somebody was hungry . . . . He knew . . . [who] he was going to stand with"). The novel is fortunately graced by consistently vivid writing and knowingly detailed descriptions of such relevant manly pursuits as boxing and deerhunting along with (really first-rate) explications of the oil refining process. If Poyer hasn't exactly rewritten The Grapes of Wrath, he has given us a rousing good read, and one that ought to make a nifty miniseries. Read full book review >
TOMAHAWK by David Poyer
Released: April 27, 1998

Poyer (The Passage, 1995, etc.) once again juggles a mix of storylines with varying degrees of success as his introspective Naval officer, Dan Lenson, battles a succession of personal and professional demons. The Reagan era's paranoia regarding terrorism and the so-called Evil Empire is in full bloom when Lenson is assigned to shore duty in Washington. After years at sea, he plans to relax, do some postgraduate work, and rekindle his relationship with his young daughter. But if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans, as Lenson soon discovers when he learns he's to be part of a new team working—under extreme pressure—on the troubled Tomahawk cruise-missile development program. At first, Lenson immerses himself in the project. But it all changes for him once he falls in love with Kerry Donavan, a member of the peace activist group Plowshares. Under her influence, he begins to question his lifelong faith in a strong nuclear defense, and also to confront his alcoholism. But then in a shocking turn of events Kerry is murdered, presumably by gang members who may or may not have been hired by Chinese spies trying to convince Lenson to sell them classified documents. His life in a tailspin, he's pushed to the limits of his conscience, courage, and sense of duty—though unfortunately he's surrounded along the way by Poyer's caricatured and clichÇ-spouting peace activists, selfish politicians, and voracious media types. Nevertheless, guilty of said boilerplate or not, Poyer finds his sea legs quickly enough when describing the action and intricacies of life on military bases, missile test ranges, and aboard ship. Poyer deserves credit for examining serious moral issues within the narrow confines of a military thriller. On balance, though, his hero's fifth adventure is a disappointing jumble of stock characters, acronym-laden jargon, soul-searching platitudes, and convoluted plot twists. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 19, 1996

Scapegrace diver Tiller Galloway finds the inner space of limestone caves as risky as the open-ocean deeps probed in his three previous outings (Louisiana Blue, 1994, etc.). With precious little going for him on North Carolina's Outer Banks, Tiller willingly heads to Florida when Monica Kusczk asks for his help after the supposedly accidental death of her husband Bud (with whom Galloway served as a SEAL in Vietnam). Also on the trip to Tallahassee is Tiller's sullen teenaged son Tad, who has run away from his demanding mother. Once in the Sunshine State, Tiller helps manage the diving equipment store owned by his dead friend, takes up the dangerous sport of cave diving, and starts a relationship with the receptive Monica. In short order, Tiller finds that the pitch-dark caverns created by aquifers are treacherous venues and no place for amateurs, and learns from a hardcase emissary that Bud had been laundering money for a Colombian coke cartel and that he's expected to do the same. Meantime, Tiller (convinced that Bud's demise was no mishap) determines that a socially prominent local has been diverting water from underground springs to his closely guarded nursery, where, among other cash crops, he's hydroponically cultivating coca leaves and marijuana. With two sets of villains on his case, the renegade mariner (who's done time himself for drug-running) calls in the feds. The overeager DEA makes a shambles of the resultant raid, and Monica (whom Tiller was beginning to love) is gunned down in a crossfire. With unexpected assistance from Tad, however, Galloway survives the wild shootout. When the heat dies down, he returns home to Cape Hatteras with his son, sadder, wiser, and with nearly $1 million in untraceable greenbacks. White-knuckle diving scenes, constant action, and a raffish antihero whose motives lie well below the surface make the latest chapter in the motley tale of Tiller Galloway a welcome addition to Poyer's offbeat series. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1996

A grim, moving thriller from the prolific Poyer (The Only Thing to Fear, 1995, etc.), who here returns to the aptly named Hemlock County. Hemlock, in a forgotten corner of Pennsylvania, is sinking back into wilderness after a century of rapacious exploitation. The coal, oil, and gas deposits that once fueled the economy are gone, leaving poisoned landscapes and a dwindling, embittered population. Among them is W.T. ``Racks'' Halvorsen, a legendary hunter. In Poyer's earlier Hemlock County novel, Winter in the Heart (1993), the elderly Halvorsen figured as one of a group who turned to violence to stop a local businessman from illegally dumping quantities of toxic waste in the county. This time out, Halvorsen is on his own as he deals with an equally lethal conspiracy. Walking in the woods, he comes upon two men methodically beating a third to death. They flee with the body, but Halvorsen, angered by what he has seen, looking for anything that will dissolve some of the grief he still feels for his wife's death three years ago, tries to track them down. His search leads him into the heart of a supposedly uninhabited wilderness area, where he finds a kidnapped girl and an ambitious plot to steal quantities of natural gas. Rescuing the girl, he flees deeper into the wilderness to elude the killers. Poyer hits his stride with Halvorsen's ingenious and convincing use of wilderness skills to outwit his pursuers in a long midwinter duel that's tense, vivid, and believable. Both Halvorsen and the resilient girl he has rescued are complex, convincing figures. And the outcome is satisfying without seeming either forced or melodramatic. A subtle, highly original blend of eco-thriller and novel of character. Halvorsen, bitter, almost overcome by age and regret, very much a man of an earlier time, lingers in the mind. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1995

On furlough from his successful series of military thrillers, Poyer (The Passage, 1994, etc.) offers an overlong flight of historical fancy that pits a callow JFK against Nazi killers bent on assassinating FDR during the late days of WW II. It's the spring of 1945, and John Kennedy is convalescing stateside after the PT boat he skippered was run down and sunk off Guadalcanal. While unimpressed by the heroic public image that Joe Kennedy has created for his eldest surviving son, JFK's superiors (alerted to the possibility of an enemy agent in the White House) put him on the ailing FDR's personal staff as their eyes and ears. The feckless Navy lieutenant clashes constantly with Secret Servicemen, top aides, the press corps, and others, but he delights the gregarious, larger-than-life chief executive. In the meantime, a U-boat has landed a pair of operatives on the Virginia coast in furtherance of a Third Reich plot to murder the president, place the blame on Stalin, and avert Armageddon by joining forces with the US against the Soviet Union. One member of this two-man band, a disaffected SS colonel, goes straight to the FBI, but J. Edgar Hoover (in the conviction his country has a postwar rendezvous with Communism) doesn't act on the information. The other, an American- born Russian who betrays his NKVD masters out of hatred for the USSR's red regime, perseveres and very nearly does for FDR on several occasions; his undercover accomplice fails as well. On April 12, 1945, however, their efforts pay off, and the President dies, not of a stroke, but in a hail of bullets while posing for a portrait painter in Warm Springs. Young Kennedy dispatches the gunman, while a dea ex machina deals summarily with his co- conspirator and the 50-year coverup begins.... Despite a few tension-filled moments, an amalgam of fact and fantasy more lengthy than stirring. Read full book review >
THE PASSAGE by David Poyer
Released: Jan. 21, 1995

In his fourth adventure (The Circle, 1992, etc.), Lt. Dan Lenson busily battles spies, computer hackers, pirates, thieves, a gun-crazy right-wing libertarian, and his own personal demons. Not to mention his shock at learning that there are gays in the navy. Poyer (Louisiana Blue, p. 171) somehow makes all of this silliness work. Lenson is serving as weapons officer aboard the newly commissioned Barrett, a sophisticated destroyer with a new, top-secret automated combat direction system. The vessel's near- disastrous computer failures are revealed as the handiwork of a spy who attempts to turn the ship over to the Russians and Cubans while on test maneuvers in Guant†namo Bay. At least two men die during the scheming: One is a supply officer whose apparent suicide implicates him in the mysterious disappearance of equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars; the second is a handsome young seaman—also an apparent suicide—whose diary indicates that he was having sexual relations with Commanding Officer Thomas Leighty, a family man with an impeccable record but a less-than-butch manner that makes him the subject of rumor—and a naval intelligence investigation. The missing supplies and equipment, the deaths, the computer malfunctions are all connected to an eventual mutiny led by the spy. Bitter over a recent divorce, struggling against the bottle, haunted by an earlier tragedy at sea, Lenson nonetheless manages to foil the dastardly plot. He also learns that a person's sexual orientation has nothing to do with honor or courage. Poyer patches in a sappy, jingoistic subplot about a pregnant woman's escape from the horrors of Castro's Cuba, but otherwise handles the convoluted storyline with professionalism. Lingo-laden and slow to develop, but notable for a sensitivity and scope lacking in other, more popular modern sea adventures. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1994

Deep-sea diver ``Tiller'' Galloway's third adventure (after Bahamas Blue, 1991; Hatteras Blue, 1989) is so weighed down with subplots, techno-claptrap, and tough-guy blather that, when Poyer finally gets to the story, it sinks with nary a bubble. An ex-con, Galloway has fled North Carolina for the Louisiana Gulf coast, hoping to make big money diving for the oil companies. Hired by DeepTech, a small operation owned by Roland ``Bender'' Boudreaux, he joins his new mates in a serious drinking bout (they snort goldfish and drink urine to prove their grit) and a brutal, pointless barroom brawl before heading for Pandora 12, a platform owned by Coastal Oil. On the way, Galloway's helicopter mysteriously crashes, killing three men, one a government official. Tiller escapes, leaving behind an important briefcase (Poyer also leaves behind a body), and finally gets to work on the pipeline, where he remains locked in a l0' x 20' pressurized chamber with the other guys for weeks at a time. (Poyer provides detailed if often unintelligible exposition of their duties.) While inspecting pipeline at 1,200 feet, Tiller reports extensive damage that could lead to an oil spill that would douse the entire Gulf of Mexico. Boudreaux, who's in cahoots with the financially tottering oil company, orders Tiller to falsify the report. He's offered a lot of money, but Tiller's deep-down integrity floats to the surface. Much too slow in developing, the plot doesn't really emerge until the novel is two-thirds over. By then, it's scuttled. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1993

On leave from his skillful and successful military thrillers (The Med, The Gulf, The Circle), Poyer takes his readers to a ravaged corner of Pennsylvania where eco-despair, alcohol, and ruthless business practices make life miserable for everyone. Everyone. Attention Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: you are needed in northwestern Pennsylvania where Siberian weather, toxic dumping, spouse abuse, alcoholism, venereal disease, deforestation, adolescent violence, unemployment, and potholes have made the old oil-pumping town of Raymondsville into an American gulag. And it's getting worse. Loathsome, syphilitic businessman Brad Boulton—the illegitimate son of a coal-field prostitute who married into the town's leading family—is busily turning the nearly bankrupt local oil industry into a shady conglomerate. Boulton is the kind of guy who sees golden financial opportunities in defrocked doctors and bedridden pensioners for his new chain of cut-rate nursing homes. He's recently improved his cash-flow situation by filling emptied oil trucks with pesky toxic industrial waste (mob controlled, of course) from New Jersey, which he has his drivers dump along the roadsides of his own community. Animals are dying and people are getting sick. The demoralized townspeople, grateful for the jobs he's brought to their dying burg, will do anything Boulton wants. The only ones willing to stand up to him are his nasty wife, the electrolysis expert he's been seeing on the side, a crippled but clever schoolboy, and an ancient hard-as-nails hunter. The wife keeps to herself, but the other three get together on a homemade bomb, making good use of that oh-so-handy fertilizer you hear so much about these days. Unremittingly bleak. Read full book review >
THE CIRCLE by David Poyer
Released: May 1, 1992

The first cruise of a newly commissioned Annapolis graduate takes him to the brink of war in the Arctic—in another realistic naval adventure by the author of The Med (1988) and The Gulf (1990). Reporting for the first assignment of his career, Ensign Dan Lenson steps onto the unmanned quarterdeck of USS Ryan and learns within seconds that he's on a troubled command. Built to last the duration of WW II, the destroyer has instead sailed into the mid- 1970's, and it's worn out. Assigned by the Ryan's corrupt executive officer to serve as first lieutenant, Lenson is responsible for the seaworthiness of all topside spaces. His crew of boatswain mates ranges from the criminal to the subnormally intelligent. But even if they were thoroughly competent, there aren't enough of them to effect the repairs left undone when the ship was yanked early from dry-dock overhaul. It's in this state that USS Ryan sets out for duty above the Arctic Circle, where the ship is to test experimental sonar gear. The duty is very nearly the death of the craft. Storms, ice, and a renegade Soviet nuclear submarine combine to test the limits of the ship and crew. The executive officer, drug-dealing sailors, and the relentless grind of duty also test the limits of Dan Lenson. When at last the Ryan is freed from Arctic duty, the exhausted crew is sent to operate with a fast carrier attack force west of Ireland, and there Ryan's luck runs out. The upshot of a horrifying tragedy at sea is a cold examination of the essence of naval command. A first-rate naval adventure. Poyer's depictions of the contemporary American Navy continue to be unequalled for authenticity. Read full book review >