cover image BARRACUDA 945


Patrick Robinson, . . HarperCollins, $25.95 (6pp) ISBN 978-0-06-054854-4

Terrorists lay siege to the West Coast in this engrossing if frustratingly digressive naval thriller that features a turncoat British officer matching wits with Robinson's series star, National Security Adviser Arnold Morgan. The crusty, steel-nerved Morgan, making his sixth appearance (The Shark Mutiny, etc.), goes up against former SAS commando Ray Kerman, who has become a leader in the terrorist group Hamas. Kerman has spearheaded such daring missions as a $100-million bank robbery in Jerusalem and a raid on an Israeli prison that freed 47 of the most feared Arab terrorists. With the help of the Iranians, Kerman is now taking his battle to the West. He has purchased a Russian nuclear submarine, the Barracuda 945, and has begun using it for missile strikes against Alaskan oil supplies for California's electrical grid. Along with strategist and sidekick Lt. Jimmy Ramshawe, Morgan directs the might of the U.S. Navy, as well as his raging temper, toward capturing the Barracuda. After weeks of fruitless pursuit, U.S. forces finally pin down the elusive sub in the confines of the Panama Canal. Though marred by a pallid finale, Robinson's latest is the work of a skilled storyteller and researcher. Some readers may chafe at his tendency to drift into pedantry—on the history of the Panama Canal, presidential speechwriting and the Academy Awards, among others—just when the plot gets hot. Those who don't mind such lectures will be treated to an audacious, richly told tale with action both above sea level and below. 8-city author tour. (Aug.)