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Terrorists take on the Lieutenant Commanders Craik—and are, of course, overmatched.

Again, in a fifth outing, the Craiks (Rosie and Alan) are beset by low-lifes both foreign and domestic (Hostile Contact, 2003, etc.). Alan, in Kenya on special assignment, finds himself temporary skipper of the USNS Jonathan Harker when it falls victim to a sneak attack. In Mombasa harbor the ship lies on its side, burning, minus top officers, and under murderous fire from a sniper in a hard-to-reach hidey-hole. But Alan reaches him, kills him, and willy-nilly becomes a TV star because a journalist captures his heroism on film. Thus, the law of unintended consequences is invoked, and in Houston, Texas, Rosie experiences the thrust of it. An astronaut in training, she suffers her own sneak attack when vengeful terrorists sore at Alan take a retaliatory crack at the distaff Craik. Bad move, and Rosie makes them pay: three hit-men, two vehicles, all totaled—and in the aftermath it suddenly occurs to her that she’s had all she can stand of spiteful Space Center bureaucracy and arcane NASA politics. “Good to have you back in the real Nav, Rosie,” says an old shipmate as she reclaims her place among the hottest of Navy helicopter pilots. In the meantime, Alan and his NCIS buddies are trying to figure out precisely what variety of terrorist they’re dealing with. The OBL (Osama bin Laden) type wins the popular vote at first, but on reflection Alan & Company grow less certain. What’s for certain, however, is that someone smart, capable, and utterly ruthless is out to kill a lot of Americans.

With the pseudonymous Kent (a father-and-son writing team, both ex-Navy ), authenticity is a given, but what really makes this series go is a core conviction that thrillers thrill when they’re character-driven.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 2004
ISBN: 0-385-33629-2
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2004


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