The veteran British thriller-writer churns out still another in his way-we-war saga.
Rival super-teams gnash their teeth and gear up, each seeking the edge that will drive the despised other into oblivion. Starring for the post–Soviet Union Russians is the resourceful and ruthless General Kurinin, his elite corps of intelligence ops, and the transcendently brilliant Dr. Olga Vasilyeva, a scientific powerhouse. She’s the one who developed plant radar, viewed even by her adversaries as the “ultimate in eco-warfare”: trees, grass, whatever’s green can now have nanocomputers implanted, making it impossible for anything to pass over anything green undetected. In the West, watching covertly, is the famed Zero One squadron, a band of flying brothers (and the occasional sister) that is quite simply the best in the world. Based in Scotland and code-named “November,” it’s composed of hot pilots culled from the air forces of Germany, Italy, England, and the US, headed by the resourceful but far from ruthless—actually rather warm and fuzzy—Wing Commander C.T. Jason. Since hot pilots can be emotionally flighty too, he has his hands full. Still, it’s this group that will throw the counterpunch by mounting the operation, code-named Starfire, aimed at electronically neutralizing Russia’s “illegal phase-array radar,” in the Wing Commander’s all but impenetrable periphrasis for plant radar. At length the stage is set, super-teams fully prepared and lined up for the final conflict. When at last the fateful moment comes, however, it is curiously muted—more than a whimper, but less than a bang.
Savarin (Wolf Run, 1991, etc.) recycles his familiar cast, gives them dollops of dreary dialogue, and jerks them around like a puppeteer, unaware that the secret lies in hiding the strings: a Cold War rehash in high-tech clothing.