The U.S. Navy squares off against high-tech German submarines in this implausible but exciting thriller.
After Germany shuts down its nuclear power plants, they send four super-advanced diesel submarines to Arab rogue state Siraj in exchange for discount oil. En route, however, the subs attack blockading British and American warships. Matching the Germans blunder for blunder, President Francis â€œFrank” Chandler refuses to swamp the flotilla with American naval might, instead ordering four surface ships to meet the subs on equal terms in a duel of honor. This contrived scenario sets up a fair fight in which American pluck, improvisation and democratic spirit, rather than overwhelming firepower, defeat German cunning and fuhrerprinzip. Led by Captain Jim Bowie of the destroyer USS Towers and Chief Theresa McPherson–a lowly petty officer but an anti-submarine warfare genius–the Yanks match wits with wily U-boat ace Stefan GrÃ¶eler, who knows all their tricks from NATO tactical manuals. It’s a nerve-wracking battle of ruse and counter-ruse and explosive ambush, mediated by advanced computers and sensors. Edwards, a retired Navy Chief and Anti-Submarine Warfare Specialist, steeps the story in realistic and endlessly detailed military procedures, weapons-specs and, above all, jargon. Connoisseurs will savor the clipped, Tom Clancy-esque lyricism of the dialogue–â€œ â€˜TAO-EW, Bogies just lit up their Fire Control Radars!’ ”–but even casual readers will be able to discern the cut and thrust of combat. The narrative’s geopolitics become overly complicated, and the German antagonists are too seldom heard from (perhaps so they can’t ask each other why they continue on their absurd mission), but Edwards keeps the pacing brisk and the action taut.
Suspension of disbelief will reward readers with an engrossing tale of cutting-edge naval warfare.