In his fourth literary tour of duty, submariner Michael (Patch) Pacino (now a two-star admiral) matches wits and superweapons with Japan's underseas forces: a stunningly effective technopolitical thriller from DiMercurio (Phoenix Sub Zero, 1994, etc.) In the near postmillennial future, an impoverished but well- armed Japan (which has been shut out of consumer markets worldwide due to unfair trade practices) is panicked into a preemptive strike against Manchuria, a new state that emerged following the breakup of mainland China and the USSR. The sneak attack angers America, which (under the leadership of its first woman president) decides to deny the home islands access to the foreign oil and raw materials that sustain them. Tokyo soon dispatches a squadron of computer-controlled U-boats to deal with the blockade. American Navy subs sink these unmanned craft, though not before they send almost all of the US surface ships, including an aircraft carrier, to the bottom. The shocking losses mean that Patch and his overmatched flotilla are the only American forces left in the Pacific to maintain the commercial quarantine. Facing a tight deadline from the chief executive, who plans to seek a negotiated end to the undeclared war if there aren't immediate results against Japan's crew-run subs, the gutsy admiral calls in Piranha, a new attack vessel equipped with Vortex torpedoes (state-of-the-art missiles that vaporize their targets). Until Piranha reaches the operations area, however, Pacino must hold his own against superior foes from an underwater command post aboard the Barracuda. In a series of close, hair-raising encounters beneath the waves offshore Japan, Patch's deep-sea sailors turn the tide of battle, saving East and West from a particularly unfortunate repeat of military history. A dandy hell-and-high-water yarn, with characters of some complexity and depth, a plausible scenario for global calamity, and an author who knows his way around the silent service's advanced technology.