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Calling to mind such undersea techno-thrillers as Clancy's The Hunt for Red October and Hagberg's By Dawn's Early Light, this latest outing by Bond, a former naval officer turned bestselling military suspense author (Larry Bond's First Team, etc.), is an edge-of-the-seat yarn about an aging nuclear submarine on a secret mission to Russian waters. Using his senator uncle's political clout, Lt. (j.g.) Jerry Mitchell—a former pilot permanently grounded thanks to a wrist injury sustained in a freak carrier crash—has found his way into submarine training, where, among the other basic skills, he becomes an expert on the Manta, a robot device used for underwater exploration. Cmdr. Lowell Hardy, veteran skipper of the Memphis, a nuclear sub long overdue for decommissioning, is given orders to take Dr. Joanna Patterson from the President's Advisory Science Board and her comely young assistant, Dr. Emily Davis, into Russian waters to look for evidence of illegal disposal of nuclear waste. Mitchell's alleged political pull and the presence of women aboard create unrest among an already unhappy crew. Somewhat predictably, the mission uncovers a major threat to world security and the suspense cranks up when the Russians learn they've been found out. Despite an obligatory surfeit of naval alphabetese and a muster of trite maritime stereotypes with seabags full of childish personality conflicts, this is an engaging read.
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