White (The Ice Curtain) pens another nail-biter, a gripping post–Cold War tale of an undersea standoff between a Russian ballistic-missile submarine and an American attack boat. Russian Typhoon class ballistic-missile subs are the largest ever built, each the size of an aircraft carrier. The U.S. has paid the Russians to scrap them, and they have—except for one, Baikal, which they've secretly held on to, then sold to China. A Russian crew has been ordered to transport the rusty behemoth from the Barents Sea to Shanghai, slipping under the Arctic ice cap. When the furious Americans get wind of this, they dispatch the USS Portland, an attack submarine, to intervene and delay the transport. In addition to dealing with the difficulties of navigation and concealment in sometimes dangerously shallow, ice-covered waters, the Russian skipper is impeded by a duplicitous officer. His mercurial American counterpart, Capt. James Vann, has his own problems: Lt. Rose Scavullo, a Russian language specialist, has been assigned to the Portland, the first woman on an American sub. Vann and many of his underlings bitterly resent her and are determined to make her life on the sub miserable; crew members flash her, while Vann blames her for the boat's mishaps. The international cat-and-mouse game becomes a contest between American technology and Russian cunning. The setting and stirring pace will remind readers of Clancy's The Hunt for Red October. Though the exhaustive technical details may stymie some readers, enthusiasts of naval warfare will delight in them. (Mar.)
Corrections: In our review of Selena's Big Score (Forecasts, Mar. 10), we misidentified the illustrator. The correct illustrator is Darwyn Cooke; Matt Hollingsworth did the color.
The literary agent for P.J. Tracy, author of Monkeewrench and subject of a "PW Talks with" (Forecasts, Mar. 3), is Ellen Geiger, at Curtis Brown.
Release date: 03/01/2003