cover image The Circle

The Circle

David Poyer / Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (432p) ISBN 978

Poyer's latest, impressive, techno-thriller, set in the early 1970s, features Dan Lenson (seen before in The Gulf ) as an ensign fresh from Annapolis who has just joined his first ship. The U.S.S. Reynolds Ryan is an obsolete destroyer with a captain whose marriage and career are on the rocks, an executive officer who despises Academy grads and a crew made up of the incompetent and the indifferent. Yet at an hour's notice the Ryan is sent to sea, and it winds up tracking a renegade Soviet missile sub in the teeth of an Arctic storm. After joining a task force on maneuvers, the Ryan is sunk when she turns into the path of an aircraft carrier, and the resulting court of inquiry compels Lenson to face home truths about the Navy--and himself. With echoes of The Caine Mutiny and The Bedford Incident , and Arctic scenes to match those in H.M.S. Ulysses , Poyer's novel is nonetheless an original contribution to the genre. If the Ryan sees an implausible amount of action in a single mission, the individual events convincingly present the gritty details of life aboard a pre-computer-age destroyer, and Poyer provides a compelling sense of the Cold War Navy's operational dynamics. The conclusion movingly depicts the unforgiving triad of command at sea: authority, responsibility and accountability. 100,000 first printing; author tour. (May)