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A Jake Grafton Novel
Stephen Coonts

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America: A Jake Grafton Novel

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America: A Jake Grafton Novel
A Jake Grafton Novel
By Stephen Coonts
Thorndike Press - Large Print, (2001)
Genre: Techno-Thriller

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - March 27, 2002

When the SuperAegis killer satellite goes off course and disappears, it looks at first like a simple malfunction, or was it? The SuperAegis satellite was a joint United States, Russian, and European effort to construct an orbital defense shield to protect the member countries from attack by ICBM's (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles). Rear Admiral Jack Grafton, who served as deputy to the leader of the liaison team observing the development of the defense shield project, is naturally curious to discover what happened to the satellite. It appears, however, that there is not much that Grafton can do to help determine what caused the failure of the launch, that is a task for the techies. Consequently, Grafton's is stuck with the job of 'playing nice' with the liaison officials, from the various countries involved in the missile shield project, some of which are unabashed spies.

Grafton is a man of action, and while he can play the 'political' game, he'd much rather be involved in something with a bit more substance. His wish is not long in the granting. Shortly after the SuperAegis goes missing, the U.S.S. America is hijacked on her first operational cruise - before she is even out of sight of land! Within hours, Grafton is called in to investigate the theft. The U.S.S. America is a new, super-stealthy nuclear-powered submarine loaded with six tomahawk missiles topped with electromagnetic bombs that have the potential of frying every electrical circuit for miles around the point of impact. Worse of all, the sub was stolen by a group trained by the CIA to, of course, steal a sub. In one simply exercise, this group of killers proved that the CIA trained them well.

Having to investigate the highjacking is not the only task assigned to Grafton, he is also charged with the insurmountable task of retaking, or destroying, the sub. But the sub can only be recaptured or destroyed if it can be found. The problem is that this sub is totally new, ultra-quiet, one of a kind work of stealth technology - and no one has the capability to track the sub. So even devoting all of the world's assets to the task of hunting the sub, finding it will still be a matter of pure luck.

As Grafton hunts the sub, he becomes enmeshed in an international plot to destroy U.S. economy and by extension, the social fiber of the country. Throughout he plays cat and mouse with Janos Ilin, a Russian spy who knows more than he should, about what is going on. Yet while Grafton is not surprised to discover that the cold war is alive and well, he is surprised to discover that now the enemy is Europe.

America is the ninth Stephen Coonts novel that features Jake Grafton, and it is one of his best. It is a self-contained story, and can be read without having read the previous Grafton novels. This novel was written before the tragic events of September 11th, and it includes some material that some may find upsetting. In particular, America includes deadly plane crashes and devastating attacks on Washington, D.C., and New York City.

This is a very realistic, fast paced techno-thriller. With finesse, Coonts interweaves a variety of subplots and lifelike characters such as Tommy Carmellini, a thief who has been coerced into working for the CIA, and General "Flap" Le Beau, a streetwise Marine who always carries at least two knives concealed on his person. Coonts also spices up this tale with a mixture of terrorism, espionage, assassins, international finance, old-fashion detective work, and detailed descriptions of various weapons and other technological 'toys'. The result of which is that Coonts has created a hair-raising adventure story that is impossible to put down.

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