The Rules of Engagement

Gordon Kent, Author Putnam Publishing Group $24.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-399-14469-1
Set just before the start of the Gulf War, this first novel by a pseudonymous father and son writing team (ex-navy officers, both) features a protagonist who inadvertently finds himself working alongside his father. After some bad judgment calls during flying maneuvers, U.S. Naval intelligence officer Alan Craik is stationed on one of two aircraft carriers steaming toward the Persian Gulf and a possible confrontation with Iran. His father is on the other. Unbeknownst to them both, Petty Officer Sheldon Bonner (aboard the same carrier as Alan's father) is selling top-secret information to a Russian mafioso who goes by the name of Carl. When Carl decides to trade up in the terrorist world and start working for the Iranians, he takes Bonner along with him. Offered more money (and a longer lease on life), Bonner is game. What's more, he enlists his son (also in the military) in his spy efforts. Then, Craik watches while his father's plane is shot down during a nighttime strike on the Iranian coast. Knowing full well the limited radar capabilities of the Iranians, Alan doesn't buy the official story that a ""lucky hit"" downed his father's A-6 aircraft. Further investigation leads Alan to the Bonners and Carl, and lands him in the middle of a security nightmare. The writers' knowledge of naval technology and wartime tactics is flawless, and they work it effortlessly into the plot. Unfortunately, the novel's characters aren't always as smoothly conceived (i.e., the stereotypical girlfriend, Kimberly Hoyt), and the pat ending is suffused with a little too much John Wayne bravado and flag waving. Foreign rights sold in U.K., Italy, Poland. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 474 pages - 978-0-425-17858-4
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