The latest addition to the newly busy genre of military future-fiction, this carefully documented World War III yarn misses fire, partly because it keeps hopping back and forth in time. Taylor details what might happen in the not-too-distant future if U.S. and Soviet naval maneuvers get too rough in the Indian Ocean (a timely hot-spot). The task forces of fictional admirals Charles and Kupinsky (whose Cold-War background--they know and respect each other--is given in distracting flashbacks) slug it out with conventional missiles after the Kremlin announces that a god-forsaken guano heap, Islas Piedras, is actually a U.S. Trident base, hence a threat to the peaceloving Third World; the U.S. refuses to dismantle. So somewhere at sea east of the Maldive Islands (""It's just that some bully drew a line across a point on the playground and said, 'Don't cross it or I'll beat you up' ""), naval warfare rages, there are computer snafus, and--after the sea is littered with wreckage and both sides lose their capital ships--the old-buddy rival admirals parley in little whaleboats, trying to arrange a cease-fire over a bottle of brandy (""Sorry I forgot the snifters""). But then the friendly enemies are blown to Davy Jones' Locker when a deranged torpedo from a wreck surfaces under them--and, at book's end, a full-scale land war seems inevitable. . . . Taylor knows his strategy and his history--the flashbacks to Stalingrad and the Bay of Pigs invasion, though intrusive, are handled persuasively--so, if not the sure-paced future-nightmare scenario it might have been, this is still a solid bet for modern-military-action buffs, especially those with a naval predilection.