Black Sea Affair, by Don Brown (Zondervan, 2008)
Pete Miranda is one of the US Navy’s best submarine commanders. Along with a hand-picked crew of volunteers, his mission is to sneak a nuclear sub through the Bosporus Strait into the Black Sea.
Conventional wisdom says it can’t be done. If the navy’s radical plan succeeds, Pete’s crew must find and sink a terrorist freighter operating under a Russian flag—without creating an international incident.
The freighter is carrying enough stolen plutonium to make a powerful nuclear explosive. What the Americans don’t know is that it’s also carrying a group of orphan children.
Don Brown has plotted a complex thriller that escalates international tension to the brink of nuclear war. Fans of his Navy Justice series will be glad to see JAG Officer Zack Brewer join the story in the later stages. And the ending is definitely not one you can put down unfinished.
Geography is not my strong point, and I appreciated the little maps and diagrams that were included where necessary.
Oddly enough, I had no trouble believing the series of events in this high-stakes plot. It was the faith that made me hesitate. Pete is a Christian, and so is Masha Katovich, the children’s chaperone on the freighter. I related better to her experience of faith than to his, but maybe it’s because I’m female.
While it’s probably true that crisis gets most people praying, whether to God or to the universe at large, it seemed to me that most of the key players other than the Russians had a personal faith. Even in high political circles. Call me a cynic, but it felt weird.
Black Sea Affair is the best international thriller I’ve read in a long time. It contains a few spoilers for the author’s earlier Navy Justice novels (Treason, Hostage and Defiance), but leaves enough unsaid that I’m still interested in reading them. His newest novel, The Malacca Conspiracy, features Zack Brewer.
You might check out my review of Brown’s Malacca Conspiracy on my Good Reads site. I wasn’t that impressed. Eric
Thanks, Eric. You mentioned “too many details”… now that you remind me, there was a section early in Black Sea Affair with too much description of the geography of Pearl Harbour. It didn’t matter to the story, and I skimmed it. That’s the only part I remember having that problem with, though.