Rear Admiral Jake Grafton, who has appeared in eight previous Coonts novels (most recently Cuba and Hong Kong), returns for another techno-thriller from one of the genre's top practitioners. The first couple of pages recount the disappearance of SuperAegis, a satellite that's the cornerstone of a new American-European-Russian antimissile defense system, on its first, much heralded trial. But Jake Grafton is only on that case for a few paragraphs before the stealth submarine U.S.S. America is hijacked on her maiden voyage. The sub quickly lives up to her reputation as the sneakiest undersea vessel in the world by seeming to vanish into the Atlantic. It takes a little while for Grafton to connect the dots between the two military blunders, by which time missiles fired from the America have devastated Washington, frying every electronic circuit in the city, and even burning the White House to the ground. Between looking for the rogue sub, searching for the satellite, and trying to get some answers about the team the CIA trained to steal a Russian sub (and then beached when the mission was canceled), Grafton's got his hands full.
Stephen Coonts describes the submarine at the center of the action so lavishly and lovingly that the U.S.S. America is much more real--and even more human--than any of his flesh-and-blood characters, including Grafton himself. The mysterious German financier who's at the bottom of it all doesn't get more than a walk-on; he's a cardboard villain, just like the brilliant female computer expert who sets up his crimes. But none of that matters if you like this kind of tale, which combines excitement and action with loads of information about computers, sonar, weapons systems, and stealth technology. America will surface quickly and take a commanding position on the summer bestseller lists. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
What could possibly go wrong if Congress manages to approve the ICBM missile defense shield being pushed by the White House? This master of the techno-thriller spins a bone-chilling worst-case scenario involving international spies, military heroics, conniving politicians, devious agencies, a hijacked nuclear sub, lethal computer hackers, currency speculators, maniac moguls and greedy mercenaries that rivals Clancy for fiction-as-realism and Cussler for spirited action. Rear Adm. Jake Grafton is shocked, as are his fellow Russian and European observers, when a satellite for the SuperAegis missile shield goes out of launch mode and is lost in seconds. Moments later, the state-of-the-art nuclear submarine America is hijacked on her maiden voyage. The sub is armed with Tomahawk missiles with "Flashlight" warheads capable of frying all unprotected electronics within miles of detonation, crippling target cities. Jake suspects Janos Ilin and his Russian bosses, and forms a shaky "alliance" to test Ilin while digging for info. Meanwhile, Tommy Carmellini, a convicted felon with a talent for burglary that got him "recruited" by the CIA, tumbles onto a dastardly agency plot and secretly cues Jake. When American Tomahawks launched on Washington paralyze the city the whole East Coast lapses into chaos, the dollar plunges, and Jake's team, led by streetsmart black marine Gen. "Flap" LeBeau, goes into overdrive. Perennial bestseller Coonts (Hong Kong; Flight of the Intruder) never lets up with heart-racing jet/missile combat, suspenseful submarine maneuvers and doomsday scenarios that feel only too real, providing real food for thought in his dramatization of the missile-shield debate. (Aug. 14)Forecast: This timely tale starring the crowd-pleasing Jake Grafton will hit the lists with a vengeance. A major ad/promo campaign is scheduled, and an excerpt will run in the paperback edition of Hong Kong.
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