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THE ABLE ARCHERS by Brian J. Morra


by Brian J. Morra

Pub Date: March 22nd, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-64663-564-1
Publisher: Koehler Books

Two intelligence officers—one American, the other Soviet—must work together to stave off a nuclear apocalypse.

Based on the undertold true story of the severest Cold War superpower standoff since the Cuban missile crisis, this thriller builds inexorably to its potentially calamitous conclusion. The year is 1983. The Soviet Union shoots down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, killing 269 civilians. The already strained tensions between America and the Soviet Union (which President Ronald Reagan calls an “evil empire”) escalate against a backdrop of mutual military maneuvers that culminate in a joint American-British nuclear war exercise with the participation of Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. “To our leaders,” this exercise “will look like the real thing,” Soviet intelligence officer Col. Ivan Levchenko confides to Capt. Kevin Cattani, his young American counterpart. Cattani counters with United States surveillance photographs of unprecedented Soviet “nuclear weapons activity throughout East Germany and Poland.” It all comes to a head on Sept. 26, when the Soviets’ early warning system picks up what appears to be a ballistic missile launch from the U.S. The doomsday clock is ticking as Cattani and Levchenko must work behind the scenes to defuse the situation. Why this tense incident has not been adapted for the screen is a puzzler. It’s a natural: part Fail Safe and part The Hunt for Red October. It’s all too timely as well, recalling a dangerous time when the world’s mightiest powers were not even on speaking terms. Morra, a former U.S. intelligence officer involved in the events on which the gripping book is based, writes with authority. He alternates perspectives between Cattani and Levchenko. Though they are different in age and ethnicity, their voices are perhaps too similar, an element that can be developed in future volumes (“Something tells me that we will meet again, Captain,” Levchenko teases at the story’s end). Early nonevents (a romance that quickly fizzles and hardly seems the bother) stall the narrative, but patient readers will be rewarded.  

A revelatory thriller with edge-of-your-seat, end-of-the-world suspense.