14 August 2008

A shoot 'em down

I've mostly enjoyed Dana Stabenow's mysteries. Some are a lot better than others, but I haven't paid enough attention to tell you offhand which ones were better.

I read Prepared for Rage, her newest, last spring. (You can see I'm catching up with my old reading.) This one takes place mostly in Texas, Florida, and the waters east of Florida, not in Alaska, where most of Stabenow's stories are set.

USCG cutter Munro on which Stabenow spent a month learning about shipboard life and Coast Guard SOP. Climactic action in the book takes place in and near the forward gun turret.

Instead of a setting in a rural native community, this story is set at NASA, on a Coast Guard cutter, and along the trail of a terrorist sleeper cell. The main characters are a shuttle astronaut, a Coast Guard commander, and the seemingly unstoppable leader of the terrorists. The shuttle is about to launch, the cutter is part of security for the launch, and... Well, you can figure out the rest.

The plot is obvious from early in the book. The questions are how Stabenow will describe the action and whether the bad guys will be successful. Well, maybe the last one is not a question. Maybe the question is how close to success will the bad guys get before the good guy thwarts their evil schemes.

A 2006 launch of the shuttle Atlantis.

Yes, this is that much of a melodrama. Add in a love affair between the commander and the astronaut, the presence of the astronaut's parents and the commander's father on the cutter the day of the launch, and the absolutely incredible skills of the terrorist leader. Yes, he's really that talented, smart, and prescient. How will we protect ourselves from these evil doers. (Hint: in this story Homeland Security is no help.)

Does that tell you that Prepared for Rage was not one of Stabenow's best for me? She may enjoy the warm ocean breezes more than the blizzards of Alaska, but I prefer the stories she's written about Kate Shugak, Liam Campbell, and the crew up north.

No comments: