Against the frigid backdrop of the Barents Sea, a submarine captain must decide whether to risk his crew’s lives to save his enemies.
Navy aviator turned submariner Jerry Mitchell, hero of Dangerous Ground (2005), is at his new post aboard the nuclear sub Seawolf. Its mission is to map the sea floor beneath an area the Russian navy uses for training exercises by deploying and recovering three unmanned underwater vehicles. Despite the crew’s best efforts, however, the Russians spot Seawolf and send out their newest and best nuclear sub, the Severodvinsk, skippered by up-and-coming young Captain First Rank Aleksey Petrov. As Seawolf was detected in international waters, the Russians have every reason to tend toward caution, but Petrov’s highly aggressive attempt to intimidate the American sub into leaving the area leads to a collision that wounds the Seawolf. The American sub limps away, assuming the Russians have returned triumphantly to port, but Mitchell eventually realizes that the Severodvinsk lies crippled at the bottom of the sea. Now, Seawolf’s captain must decide whether to return his badly damaged sub to port or risk a highly unlikely underwater rescue. Former Tom Clancy collaborator Bond provides his customary tons of technical and operational detail, which lends an element of realism. But it also leads to bloat, sucking much of the excitement from what should be a tense underwater potboiler and turning it into an overstuffed tale of political machinations. The most thrilling moments occur well before the book’s halfway point, giving way to low-grade international tensions and domestic political squabbling before an unduly drawn-out finale provides long-awaited release.
A tense submarine thriller compromised by a distended plot.