SUBSIM Book Review: The Trident Deception

There's been a noticeable change of setting for the submarine thriller genre.

The Trident Deception
Author: Rick Campbell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2014
Reviewer: Neal Stevens, SUBSIM

There’s been a noticeable change of setting for the submarine thriller genre since the rise of Islamic fascism. Russia, China, and the Cold War are absent from the last few submarine novels I’ve read. As with Depth of Revenge and The Last Israelis, Rick Campbell’s novel The Trident Deception pivots around Israeli security threats. Instead of the Russians, the new heavies are the Iranians, although with the exception of a flashback or two, they do not make a significant appearance in the tale. But they are there, those Iranians, as a threat, and when the Mossad determines Iran is a matter of days away from assembling a working nuclear device, the Israeli prime minister initiates an elaborate plot to strike first. Not with their own nukes, but with America’s.

Through an unlikely sequence of events, an American Trident missile sub–USS Kentucky– receives a launch order. They are about eight days away from being in range, so the narrative takes the shape of a countdown. US fast attacks are sent with orders to kill, if they can find the Kentucky. The Pacific fleet is mobilized, even an Australian sub is tasked with intercepting and stopping the US sub from committing nuclear genocide. There are power struggles in Washington that always seem to go along with big scope stories like this–the national security advisor to the President plays a key role in the plot. She must grapple with a power-hungry Chief of Staff to get to the bottom of a conspiracy of traitors and saboteurs in every level of the US military.

Traces of Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide run through The Trident Deception. Much of this ground has been covered before, but the novel is notable for its rich description of submarine equipment, capabilities, and tactics. Photonic scopes, tracking contacts, targeting with multiple torpedoes–one active at high speed and enabling a second once the quarry has been flushed; this is the strength of the novel. Campbell knows the material, having an extensive career in submarines that included time aboard USS John Adams (SSBN-620), a Lafayette-class ballistic missile submarine. He has a clear writing style that serves the story well. Once the story moves under the waves and the submarine battles begin, the real power of Campbell’s experience shifts gears and The Trident Deception hits with the impact of a shipbusting torpedo.

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