A Third World coalition possessing cheap nukes and the will to use them threatens Uncle Sam in this rousing and well-paced, if predictable, undersea yarn. In the near future, the world is once again at war, with the US and the United Islamic Front (or UIF) duking it out across the eastern half of the globe. Complicating the situation are the Japanese, who make and sell the ingenious weapons and have no compunctions about exploiting the war as both marketplace and testing ground. Both sides have big plans to bring the boys back home by Christmas (or Ramadan). The US is plotting a strike on UIF headquarters, hoping to kill its leader, Gen. Mohammed al-Sihoud. The UIF has Scorpion: a sub-launched cruise missile outfitted with a low-tech but lethal mix of nuclear waste and glue that, when burst over Washington, will cover the Beltway in radioactive gunk guaranteed not to come out in the wash for the next 20,000 years. Narrowly escaping the US attack on his compound, Sihoud roars off to a rendezvous with his submarine, the Hegira, which is steaming toward America with the Scorpion aboard. Before long, the US sniffs out Sihoud, dispatches some vessels in pursuit, and the chase is on. After the Hegira ices one Yankee sub and cripples another, the US sends in its heavy hitter: Captain Michael ""Patch"" Pacino, serving his second literary tour of duty aboard the USS Seawolf (after Attack of the Seawolf, 1993). Eventually, the Seawolf destroys the Hegira but is stranded at the bottom of the Atlantic, setting up a powerfully claustrophobic rescue sequence. DiMercurio depicts his villains with creativity and restraint, but the plot has few twists, and its outcome is seldom in doubt. Still, fans of Tom Clancy and his ilk could do a lot worse.