Monday, March 28, 2011

Deep Black: Death Wave

Deep Black: Death Wave by Stephen Coonts and William H. Keith
St. Martin's PressFebruary 2011
Hardcover, 390 pages
Deep Black Series, #9
ISBN-13: 9780312671136

Deep within the NSA is Desk Three, a top-secret unit of special operatives inserted into the field when the threat is great and the response demands sensitivity and invisibility. Charlie Dean, a former Marine sniper, is a senior officer. With his colleagues Lia DeFrancesca and newcomer Ilya Akulinin, they form the core of a high-tech team known as Deep Black.
Off the coast of Africa lie the beautiful Canary Islands, a resort destination of millionaires. Underneath this idyllic paradise is one of the most volatile fault lines in the world. There, an alliance between radical Islamic terrorists and a rogue element of the Chinese government is planning to unleash an act of unimaginable geological terrorism that could devastate the U.S. East Coast, striking it with waves up to a thousand feet high. They plan to set off nuclear devices to precipitate a gigantic landslide that will send a death-dealing tsunami across the Atlantic.
In the Central Asian Republic of Tajikistan twelve nuclear warheads, stolen by the Russian Mafia, are about to be smuggled out of the country and delivered into the hands of the conspirators. Charlie and Ilya go on an intercept mission, but before they can retrieve them, the weapons vanish....

My Thoughts:

Deep Black: Death Wave by Stephen Coonts and William H. Keith is the ninth book in the Deep Black military fiction series. Charlie Dean and his partner, Ilya Akulinin, are both field operators for the National Security Agency's Desk Three Deep Black operations. They have come to Tajikistan to locate twelve suitcase nuclear weapons, as well as figure out the targets for the use of the weapons.

Even though the action jumps around, Coonts and Keith have a header informing us of the location and the time in which the following section is taking place. This ensures that you can easily keep track of where the action is and you never feel lost.

Field agents in the Deep Black series are in almost constant contact with their handlers at Desk Three via transceivers imbedded behind their ears. This means that the agents always have help and extra information about a situation, and we are privy to this information. In some ways it lessens the suspense because you know the agents have access to help and people generally know where they are and what they are encountering. Actually, I didn't feel any nail-biting suspense until the very end of the novel.

While I like action adventure thrillers, I'm not sure if military fiction is, in general, as interesting to me. I will say that even though I have not read the previous books in the series, I was easily able to follow the action and the characters. I guess I didn't care quite as much about all the little details of the mission.
Recommended by me, but highly recommended for fans of military fiction.

Disclosure: I received this novel from the publisher.


If I were a two-kiloton nuclear weapon disguised as a suitcase,” Charlie Dean said with a nonchalance he did not feel, “where would I hide?”
“The cloakroom of the U.S. Capitol Building?” his partner replied over their radio link.
“Actually, I’d like to find the damned things here, Ilya. If they make it to D.C., it’s too late.”
Charlie Dean stood on the tarmac of an apparently deserted military airstrip, which shimmered beneath a harsh mid afternoon sun. Sweat prickled at his spine beneath the khaki uniform blouse, the heat dragging at him, sucking the energy from his body.
He decided, yet again, that he was really getting too old for this sort of thing. A former U.S. Marine, he’d served in the Gulf, and later, before Bill Rubens had asked him to join Deep Black’s Desk Three, he’d worked with an independent intelligence service in Afghani stan. The heat reminded him of those deployments.
Dean didn’t look the part of one of the National Security Agency’s Deep Black senior field operators, though that, of course, was the idea. He was wearing the uniform of a wing commander in the Indian Air Force, the equivalent of an American lieutenant colonel, with his skin and hair dyed dark to give him more of a subcontinental look.
“Hey, Charlie!” The voice of his partner sounded in his ear. “I’m picking something up over here.”
He could see the other man thirty yards away, standing next to a battered Russian-made ZiL-131 truck parked in the shade beside a shed. Charlie glanced around. No one else in sight. He started walking toward the other Desk Three operator.
His partner was Ilya Akulinin, sometimes called Sharkie, a reference to the English translation of his family name; when friends called him Ilya, it was with the proper Russian pronunciation, with the accent on the “ya.” His cover for this op was that of a major in the Russian Air Force, where pale skin and blond hair were not out of place. He looked the part, and he’d come by that honestly. Akulinin’s parents were Russian émigrés, living now in the Little Russia community of Brooklyn, New York.
Their current mission, code-named Haystack, had brought them to Ayni, a military and civil airport just fifteen kilometers outside of Dushanbe, the capital of the Republic of Tajikistan. A few years ago, Tajikistan had struck a deal with New Delhi to turn a dilapidated air base at Farkhor on the border with Afghanistan over to the Indian military. The arrangement had been intended to give India a greater military and political reach in the region, and Tajikistan greater security on its southern border with Afghanistan. pg 3-4

Both Dean and Akulinin wore small but extremely sensitive Geiger counters strapped to their legs just above their ankles, hidden beneath their uniform trousers. The readout was audible only through their transceivers— a faint, rapid-fire clicking that Dean could hear through the implant as he walked beside the truck. By walking slowly across different parts of the airfield, they could pick up minute traces of radioactivity left behind by the shipment they were looking for. They’d already paced through two small storage sheds and a hangar, without result. pg. 6

The Indians, Dean knew, were pursuing the investigation themselves, as were the Russians, but his orders were to keep Desk Three’s investigation carefully compartmentalized from those of both the Indian military and the Russian FSB, hence the lie. The FSB, the Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federaciyi, or Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, was the modern successor to the old KGB, and was riddled with Russian mafiya influence, political infighting, and outright corruption. Desk Three believed that those unconventional weapons had been sold by members of the mafiya— one of Russia’s organized crime families—to an Islamist terror group, using a Tajik criminal named Zhernov as the go-between.
Desk Three wanted to find both the buyer and the consignment without tipping off either the Russians or the Indians and thoroughly muddying the metaphorical waters of the case. pg 10

The shipment, it seemed, had already been delivered. By now it might already be out of the country and on its way to its ultimate destination, wherever in an unforgiving hell that might be.
Someone—not the Russians, perhaps, but someone— was going to pay a very dear price because of that. pg 15

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