In Scott’s (Holmes Redux, 1997) thriller, a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve regiment mounts a raid to recover six stolen Russian thermonuclear warheads.
In 2017, Dr. Mike McGregor and police detective Kelli Moore have a meet-cute in the University of Michigan hospital, where McGregor’s stitching up a suspect who made the mistake of resisting arrest. Moore finds him to be an “interesting guy, but kind of a nerd”; however, she’s more intrigued later, when she learns that he was awarded a Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism and a Purple Heart. (She’s a captain in the Marine reserves, herself.) Who the hell is this guy? she wonders. He’s a former Marine lieutenant commander who distinguished himself during a covert operation in Syria in 2005 that went awry. A superior, Joe Castelli, said that McGregor was “insubordinate” and “had assumed command under highly questionable circumstances,” but in the process, McGregor saved his life, as well as two others’. In the present day, McGregor becomes part of a team assigned to locate and recover nuclear warheads, stolen by a Russian admiral and his nephew and bound for Yemeni warlord Abdullah Nazer. Also on McGregor’s team: Castelli and Moore. Scott, a retired Navy medical reserve officer, writes authoritatively about military protocol and technology, and he etches nuanced portrayals of the mission team’s players. In the midst of this thriller, he offers a fine exploration of the concept of leadership; at one pivotal point, for instance, Castelli wrestles with direct orders to abandon 26 soldiers and Marines, almost all of them wounded. One veteran officer insists, “The 1/7 does not leave people behind,” but another counters, “Just because we don’t know the reasons behind our orders doesn’t mean they aren’t valid, or that we can just ignore them.” Also admirable are Scott’s portrayals of the formidable women on the team: “You need us,” Moore says. “We are as close as you’re going to get to a cohesive fighting unit. And we’re a lot tougher than you think.”
A military tale that will excite armchair warriors.