THE INTRUDERS by Stephen Coonts

THE INTRUDERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Picking up where they left off in Flight of the Intruder (1986), Coonts and his inimitable Navy flyboy, Lt. Jake Grafton, coast on autopilot in this turgid novel of stick-and-rudder derring-do. Long on jargon, acronyms, and technical descriptions but short on actual storytelling, the saga begins in the days following the 1973 US pullback from Vietnam. On leave, Jake pays a visit to best gal Callie McKenzie's home. Callie's pop, a station wagon liberal embittered by the crippling injuries sustained in battle by his son, Theron, has a heated debate with the usually dovish Jake, precipitating an angry flight to a local watering hole. A few glasses later, Jake overhears a drunk taunting a crippled vet and launches the loudmouth through a window. To escape legal reprisal, our hero gladly accepts his first peacetime assignment: instructing Marine pilots in the manly art of carrier-based flying aboard the USS Columbia. Here's where the eponymous A-6 Intruder attack aircraft comes in, and any semblance of plot departs. Sure, there are many new characters: Hugh Skidmore, aka The Real McCoy, a sassy Navy instructor who plays the stock market; Jake's navigator, ""Flap"" LeBeau, a wisdom-spouting Afro-American Marine; and other types running the gamut from fun-loving to psychotic. But action mainly consists of A-6 crews endlessly executing noncombat maneuvers at sea. A difficult task to be sure, but not interesting enough to hold together a novel. In fact, with the exception of a running subplot featuring a ""line-in-the-sand"" conflict with the nearby Soviet fleet and Jake and Flap's bold escape from gunrunners near the story's end, Coonts's narrative style very closely resembles a commander's log -- sans command. Those hale enough to finish this muddled flight manual cum novel in one sitting will likely possess enough knowledge about the A-6 to fly one in their sleep. A good thing, since the book certainly won't keep them awake.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Pocket