Cobb's second successful sortie with Commander Amanda Garrett (Choosers of the Slain, 1996) and the good stealth ship Cunningham blends a China-Taiwan war, futuristic weaponry, and a gender-friendly US military where the men and women work even better together for the intimacies (still-illegal) that occur. The year is 2006, China is riven by civil war, and the Nationalists from Taiwan have just opened a second front in the south with a sea invasion. The newly refitted Cunningham is sent to snoop around and keep an eye on the combatants, particularly the crumbling Reds, who, it's feared, will let loose with nukes should the tide turn against them. Sure enough, on a foray up the Yangtse estuary to investigate mysterious goings-on in Shanghai, Garrett and company sniff out the trail of a missile submarine that's gone to sea with two hunter-killer escorts. Combined US, Taiwanese, and Japanese naval units track and kill the escorts, but as the clock ticks down Garrett has a flash of intuition (fittingly, after a bout of highly unlawful on-board sex with her helicopter pilot lover, Arkady): The real quarry, the missile boat, stayed put on the bottom of the Shanghai harbor. The only move left is for a Gulf Warsized blitzkrieg on heavily defended Shanghai, allowing Garrett and her capable crewmen (and women) to creep back up the Yangtse and find and destroy the target. The mission impossible is accomplished, after a desperate battle is waged to save some downed pilots and Garrett's own Arkady. A vividly imagined future war scenario, populated by quirky characters and steeped in the techno-poetry of modern weapons systems: Tom Clancy had better watch out. The new kid on the block's pretty good.