cover image WINGS OF FIRE


Dale Brown, . . Putnam, $25.95 (448pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14860-6

Military-action thriller-master Brown (Warrior Class) ignites a Middle East powder keg and drops an unsanctioned special ops corps of retired U.S. military officers armed with new superweapons into the mix in his best outing yet. Forcibly retired Air Force Gen. Patrick McClanahan leads the Night Stalkers on secret humanitarian ops. His latest contract, from Big Oil, is to destroy missile sites set up by Libyan president Zuwayy, a Muslim fanatic who deposed Khadafy and wants Egypt's oil fields. Zuwayy kills Egypt's president; the president's widow, former American air force pilot Susan Bailey Salaam, barely escapes. Patrick's team attacks during the uproar and destroys the missiles, but many soldiers are captured, including Patrick's wife, Wendy. Susan, wildly popular in Egypt, decides to run for president and sees the Night Stalkers as her secret weapon against Zuwayy's aggression. Needing a base from which to rescue Wendy, Patrick agrees to help Susan take action when a deadly nerve gas wipes out an Egyptian army post. Meanwhile, the Night Stalkers' weapons lab in Nevada is facing a coup led by the parents of a child science prodigy who takes laser weapons to a new level and gives the Stalkers a deadly edge. Brown's knack for action allows him to set a speedy pace that doesn't let up until the shocker ending. The politics and Middle East setting are spot on; the superweapons are eye-openers; and the villains deliciously evil—but the election of a woman, much less an American woman, as president of Egypt and head of the Muslim Brotherhood defies credibility. Still, it's a white-knuckle read from start to finish. (July)