Flight Of The Condor by Richard P. Henrick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In a word: cheesy. In another word: dated. In yet another word: entertaining. This book, published in 1987, is about a nuclear showdown between the US and USSR. America has a satellite up at all times overseeing Russia and their nuclear threat. When that satellite goes bad, it falls to earth and another one replaces it. Only this time, it doesn’t. And one of the top Soviet generals takes notice. And decides he wants to take this opportunity to nuke the hell out of America while they can’t spot what is going on over there. The US tries to launch another satellite on a Trident missile, only it’s apparently shot down. They then decide to dust off the space shuttle, “Condor,” and launch it manually via that. Word gets through to a terrorist organization and to the Russians and they both send teams to dismantle things. Meanwhile, this book is about subs. Our heroes are on a diesel powered sub called the Razorback, shadowing a Russian nuclear sub. And they want to take it out. Yep, they want to start WW III by sinking a Russian nuclear sub. Brilliant. As one of the crewmen puts it toward the end of the book, “…why didn’t they blow away both vessels and be done with it. These were their waters. Another foreign nation had absolutely no business there. How much better it was to be safe now than sorry later.” So they sink a French sub, thinking it’s a Russian sub. With absolutely no ramifications. None.
There are a lot of discrepancies in the book. The dialogue is wooden, at times, and hardly believable. The situations are absurd. The feared Russian Spetsnaz are shown to be total pansies when the chips are down, thanks to American military police heroes. Uh huh. An oceanographer discovers an old college flame who’s now a paleontologist with students on a dig near Vandenberg air base. So they immediately start up where they dropped things off 15 years previously and the reader has to suffer through lines like, “…he slowly gave himself until all was given. A whimper passed her lips as this gift was received deep in the tight, warm recesses of her womb.” I’m not kidding. Worst sex scene ever. And there’s an earthquake in Alaska that causes a tsunami to hit northern California. I have yet to figure out how this added to the plot. The oceanographer and an engineer fear sabotage and try to warn the Air Force higher ups, who won’t listen, so when the Russians and terrorists are defeated and the shuttle makes it up and the satellite is launched, Russia backs down and the day is saved. Cheesy. Yet still somewhat entertaining. I wanted to put this book down and did a couple of times, but found myself drawn back to it every time, wanting to know what happened next. Not sure why. It’s poorly written, the plot is bad, the dialogue choppy, but I still kind of liked it. A guilty pleasure? Sorry. I can’t recommend it. But if you happen upon it in a used bookstore like I did and can get it for a buck, it’s probably worth it.