cover image SHARK MUTINY


Patrick Robinson, . . HarperCollins, $25 (480pp) ISBN 978-0-06-019631-8

The fifth in a series of naval techno-thrillers that includes Nimitz Class and H.M.S. Unseen, Robinson's latest offers little more than tired anti-Beijing paranoia and chest-thumping adulation of U.S. military might. It is the year 2007, and the U.S. national security adviser, Adm. Arnold Morgan (the curmudgeonly patriot who has graced all of Robinson's previous novels), is unhappily marking time. He has been persuaded to stay on past his planned retirement date by a jittery Joint Chiefs of Staff worried about the aging Republican president ("a complete flake"). Bored now because "the goddamned world's gone quiet," Morgan and a junior intelligence officer named Ramshawe are almost relieved to discover that devious Chinese admirals, familiar from previous installments, have teamed up with the mad mullahs of Tehran to hatch a dastardly plot: they have set up a massive minefield across the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, directly in the path of the world's oil tankers; destroying them will drive world oil prices through the stratosphere and derail the global economy. Of course, the navy's chain of command gets in the way of those alert enough to smell a rat, and Ramshawe's warnings go unheeded until tankers start going boom. At that point, Morgan deploys the bulk of naval forces to the Gulf, and the U.S. and China go to the brink again. Robinson's description of submarine operations is not as detailed as Tom Clancy's, and his portrayal of SEALs is not as realistically gritty as Richard Marcinko's, but he does pick up handily on real world tensions. Whether or not he triumphs—and here he does not—neither he nor his hero show signs of slowing down. (May 22)