cover image SCIMITAR SL-2


Patrick Robinson, . . HarperCollins, $25.95 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-06-008664-0

Ravi Rashood, the arch-villain of Robinson's 2003 adventure, Barracuda 945 , returns for another round with Adm. Arnold Morgan, national security adviser for the former U.S. president, a militaristic Republican. Rashood and Morgan's showdown takes on some of the aura of the Holmes/Moriarty duel—Rashood has even named his new submarine Barracuda II —thanks, in part, to Robinson's rather plummy prose; not even Clive Cussler would have a character utter "Streuth" as an expletive. At 64, the crusty Morgan has earned his retirement and married his longtime love (and longer-time secretary), Kathy O'Brien. The recently elected Democratic president, "peacenik" Charles McBride, has little use for Morgan's services; Morgan's sidelining gives Hamas General Rashood the opening he needs to hatch another nefarious plot. Robinson builds the story's tension slowly; the lesser lights newly installed in federal security positions are slow to put together the pieces of seemingly unrelated events—including the murder of the world's leading geophysicist in London and the surprising eruption of Mount St. Helens. Rashood's plan, which tangentially includes evergreen Western foes Russia, North Korea and China, involves triggering an apocalyptic mega-tsunami via volcanic eruptions caused by a nuclear-tipped guided cruise missile launched from the aforementioned Barracuda... whew! Robinson's full-bodied, measured prose has a retro feel, and his narrative, studded with informative historical and political tidbits, turns every new setting into its own short story. Agent, Ed Victor. (Aug.)