Two nuclear missiles
This is my second discount audiobook by Frank Herbert, the author of Dune. In this story, the western hemisphere is at war with a not-quite-specified coalition of Asian powers that includes Russia. Britain is a nuclear wasteland. The westerners need more fossil fuel, so they’ve been drilling secret underwater wells to steal oil from their enemy. Submarines retrieve this oil, but the last 20 or so subs that went out were destroyed. OK, excellent setup for a story, but it starts breaking down immediately.
The 4 man crews of the submarines go through the most thorough background checks and interrogations possible. However, the Navy has determined (somehow) that the destroyed subs sent a location signal to their attackers, and that this was done by a crew member. So, Western Navy, your most closely inspected crews contain a minimum of 1 in 4 people who are not only traitors, but willing to die in order to betray you? Unless 1 in 3 of the enemy sailors is working for you, it doesn’t look like you’re going to win this conflict.
On top of that, the main character isn’t a regular submarine officer; he’s been planted on the sub by the government. However, he hasn’t been planted to find the traitor, instead he’s supposed to do a psychological assessment of the captain. At one point, he even uses the cover story of being a traitor-hunting security officer to cover up his real role as a psychologist. Western Navy, do you have a problem with priorities? The publisher’s marketing team can’t even buy into this; their blurb says his mission is to find the traitor.
So, the submarine faces a number of threats, as you’d expect. None of the threats are unreasonable, but none of them made me say “wow”, and my mind just couldn’t let go of the problems which I’ve mentioned above.
I’m tempted to read another Frank Herbert novel, The Green Brain, based on its marketing blurb. If I’d seen the same description for a book by an unknown author, I would have grabbed it right away, but after my last two Herbert audiobooks, I’m not sure I can tolerate a third.