In Murray’s (To Hunt a Sub, 2016, etc.) latest thriller, U.S. and British agencies have less than a month to stop a North Korean missile strike after hijackers steal nuclear warhead–armed submarines.
America and Britain are on high alert when their nuclear subs, the USS Virginia and the HMS Triumph, are suddenly missing. FBI special agent Bobby James gets in touch with former SEAL Zeke Rowe, who’d helped James thwart a formidable terrorist last year. The fed also wants assistance from Zeke’s girlfriend, Kali Delamagente—more specifically, her AI Otto. During the same case with Zeke, Otto, “capable of finding almost anything on earth,” tracked down a sub, an impressive task he can hopefully do again. Accelerating the operation is an apparent deadline: James guesses that one of the subs is part of North Korea’s promised satellite launch, which may actually be a space-based nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, Kali’s son, Sean, security director of his San Diego apartment building, stumbles on a lead. Surveilling fellow tenant and suspected murderer Anjour Mohammed, Sean picks up chatter involving the Triumph and numbers that could be coordinates for the launch site. Unfortunately, this may put him in danger once he gets too curious for Mohammed’s taste. A blistering pace is set from the beginning: dates open each new chapter/section, generating a countdown that intensifies the title’s time limit. Murray skillfully bounces from scene to scene, handling numerous characters, from hijackers to MI6 special agent Haster. This does lead to the occasional skimping on pertinent details: as part of Mohammed’s assignment to capture a naval vessel, he sparks a conversation with Lt. Paloma Chacone, who intel declares is his girlfriend the very next day. Villains, however, are outstanding, with unnamed/unseen individuals making threats to Kali and Sean (demanding they stop aiding the feds) and the implication that someone believed to be dead is the mastermind. There are startling instances of violence, too, particularly flashbacks to Zeke’s harrowing torture in Iraq.
A steady tempo and indelible menace form a stirring nautical tale.