Rear Admiral Jake Grafton, who has appeared in eight previous Coonts novels (most recently Cuba and Hong Kong), returns in America, another techno-thriller from one of the genre's top practitioners. The first couple of pages recount the disappearance of SuperAegis, a satellite that's the cornerstone of a new American-European-Russian anti-missile defence system, on its first, much heralded trial. But Jake Grafton is only on that case for a few paragraphs before the stealth submarine USS America is hijacked on her maiden voyage. The sub quickly lives up to her reputation as the sneakiest undersea vessel in the world by seeming to vanish into the Atlantic. It takes a little while for Grafton to connect the dots between the two military blunders, by which time missiles fired from the America have devastated Washington, frying every electronic circuit in the city, and even burning the White House to the ground. Between looking for the rogue sub, searching for the satellite, and trying to get some answers about the team the CIA trained to steal a Russian sub (and then beached when the mission was cancelled), Grafton's got his hands full.
Stephen Coonts describes the submarine at the centre of the action so lavishly and lovingly that the USS America is much more real--and even more human--than any of his flesh-and-blood characters, including Grafton himself. The mysterious German financier who's at the bottom of it all doesn't get more than a walk-on; he's a cardboard villain, just like the brilliant female computer expert who sets up his crimes. But none of that matters if you like this kind of tale, which combines excitement and action with loads of information about computers, sonar, weapons systems, and stealth technology. America will surface quickly and take a commanding position on the summer bestseller lists. --Jane Adams, Amazon.com [via]