A genuinely exciting debut yarn detailing how America's blue- water Navy might do battle with an unlikely foe a decade hence. It's early 2006, and Argentina has decided its manifest destiny is to seize control of Antarctica from the loose confederation of nations that have been using the minerals-rich wasteland for scientific studies. Having staked their preemptive claim by overrunning a British outpost, the invaders are confident that the imminent onset of winter will help them keep potential intervenors at bay long enough to confront the wider world with a fait accompli. They fail to reckon, however, on the presence of the USS Cunningham in Rio de Janeiro. Washington quickly orders the destroyer's captain, Commander Amanda Lee Garrett, to disrupt the Argentinean campaign until a carrier task force can reach the area. It turns out that plucky, professional Mandy and her five-star crew can do quite a bit as a one-vessel blockade. Sailing through the icy waters of the South Atlantic, the Cunningham (all but invisible on enemy radar screens and equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry as well as electronic systems) survives all the considerable firepower the Argentineans bring to bear against it in Pac Man engagements during which opponents rely on high-tech sensors to stalk one another at great distances. Guided by the sure hand of their captain, however, the men and women of the good ship Cunningham take a heavy toll on their aerial assailants before going on the offensive against an escorted convoy Buenos Aires has dispatched to provision its occupation troops. In a climactic clash, the Cunningham wreaks havoc on the supply vessels and warships sent to protect them, saving the subpolar region from economic exploitation and environmental depredation. There may be a moral or two tucked away in this hell-and-high- water tale, but impersonal interplay's the thing for Cobb as he masterfully pits his space-age warriors against one another. First- rate military suspense.