The Threat (2006)

The Threat is the latest novel in David Poyer's series about the modern navy. Poyer is an Annapolis graduate, and served the navy in numerous roles, including at sea on destroyers. With years of service both on active duty, and to allow more time to write, in the reserves, if it involves the navy in some way, Poyer can write about it with the authority that only first hand experience can provide.

These novels are based around Dan Lenson. He has been called a "self doubting protagonist" as he finds himself perpetually in situations that are over his head, and above his rank. Be that as it may, he struggles along, and manages to serve his country despite his nonapproving superiors.

In the previous novel of this series, The Command, Lenson skippers a destroyer that bears the brunt of a nearby nuclear explosion. With his ship glowing in the dark from being contaminated with radiation, he now gets a shoreside assignment. This tour of duty finds him assigned to the White House.

Lenson's first assignment involves antidrug activities. Interestingly, Poyer uses a previous character from his Tiller Galloway diving novels, Nunez ("The Baptist"). Next we find Lenson in the middle of the Bosnian conflict. Finally, Lenson gets assigned to carry "the football," of nuclear launch codes that accompany our President. Frankly, it's a lot of activity for a 305 page novel, but it does keep things from getting dull as the tale proceeds.

While of course this is all fiction, the President is a thinly disguised version of Bill Clinton, womanizing, antimilitary and all that. To make things even worse for Lenson, his marriage is on the rocks, and he suspects his commander-in-chief is involved with his wife.

Along the way, Poyer gives us an inside glimpse into how dysfunctional Washington can be. The self serving politicians, the corrupt lobbyists, and the disgruntled joint chiefs all interweave into The Threat. At times it reads as a cautionary commentary of how too much bureaucracy impedes anything from getting done. It paints our government as an overweight bear that has limited ability to respond to novel and rapidly changing incidents. While we certainly hope this isn't the case, the author has served in the government's upper echelons so it just might be based on something real, or at the very least, plausible.

The Threat reminds me considerably of Poyer's Tomahawk novel, as they both deal with Lenson on a shoreside assignment. It is gritty, with an uncanny ability to get inside the mind of his main character. I can't wait to read, The Admiral, or whatever Poyer writes next.

Overall Grade: A

Reviewed by Jonas

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