Dangerous Ground

After immensely enjoying Day of Wrath by Larry Bond, I couldn't wait to read another novel by this author. Dangerous Ground was an equally enjoyable experience. This novel manages to combine the self doubting protagonist of the David Poyer "tales of the modern navy" novels, with the submarine knowledge and action of the Patrick Robinson novels. The mix is excellent and a real page turner.

The story focuses on Jerry Mitchell, a junior grade lieutenant in the US Navy. After an unfortunate accident during flight school, Mitchell is forced to retart in the Navy. Against all odds, and with some political string pulling, he is able to secure himself a spot in the Navy's "silent service," on a submarine. The rest of the crew is less than thrilled to have him on board, and they let him know it at every opportunity.

Also on the discontented boat are several other crew members. Captain Hardy, a veteran sub commander, is slated for an easy shore command, but gets pressed into duty one more time on an aged sub that was supposed to be decommissioned. The second in comand, the XO named Bair was due to get his own comand, and he's upset to be working under the strictest captain since Ahab. As if this wasn't enough, the chief working under Mitchell can't stand him either, and resents his presence. Just for good measure, and to grit the gears even more, two woman scientists are on board as well, and they think they're calling the shots. Could you ask for a more motley crew of discontents?

Poor Mitchell has the weight of the world on him as he constantly has to make up for lost time, and work on getting his qualifications done to earn his submarine dolphins (pictured left). This is all going on while the sub is on an "environmental reconnaissance" mission deep into Russia's waters.

Add in to this they have a new experimental device on board. It's called a "Manta" and it's a remote controlled type of mini sub. This is cutting edge technology by anyone's measure. If the Navy doesn't have one of these yet, they should order up a few after reading this novel!

Most of the novel takes place on the soon to be decommissioned sub, the USS Memphis (pictured left). Interestingly, there is a sub by that name, and it is active. I'm not sure why Bond chose this name for the boat in Dangerous Ground. The novel is filled with so many technical details of the inner workings of the sub, that you can tell that the author has devoted considerable time and effort to unraveling the inner workings of a modern nuclear powered submarine. This greatly enhances the realism of the novel, as well as keeps it an informative read as well.

If you are looking for a well plotted, and superbly charactered novel of the sea, this is a true winner. Larry Bond has written a great military novel, and well done technothriller in Dangerous Ground. It is well worth a read, and I hope the start of a longstanding series of novels as we trace the progress of Lt. Mitchell rise through the ranks!

Overall Grade: A+

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