RogerBW's Blog

Exit Plan, Larry Bond and Chris Carlson 14 April 2014

Jerry Mitchell, aboard an Ohio SSGN, goes on a mission to extract two Iranians with knowledge of the nuclear weapons programme from that country. Mild spoilers will follow.

Carlson continues to impress. I'm no longer in any doubt about who's writing these books; I've read Bond when he tries to write Arabs (in The Enemy Within and Day of Wrath), and they just come over as cackling villains, sometimes under a deceptive mannered façade; this is on a whole different level.

As in Cold Choices, things start out well and rapidly go horribly wrong. Technical malfunctions and smart Iranian security forces turn a simple extraction operation into a multi-day nightmare. Also as in Cold Choices, the characters are at least two and a half dimensional. The two Iranians have reasons for having turned traitor, and aren't entirely happy about leaving their country and families behind; the various other Iranians have motivations for doing what they do, and some are more competent than others; but most remarkable of all for a book published in the USA to appeal to military fans, Israel is presented less as a good friend and more as a dangerous ally, prone to fly off the handle and follow the path to war laid out for it by the Iranians.

To be honest, there's less submarining than I'd like, though there's a good battle scene near the end; the bulk of the book sees Mitchell ashore with a SEAL squad, and while the writing is good and tension is maintained I'd been expecting a bit more by way of naval warfare. There is however an excellent sequence from the point of view of one of the Iranians, in which he's bracing himself for a protracted firefight… and it's then over in a few seconds. On the other hand, several of the good guys come across as surprisingly defeatist and even whiny.

On the political level it feels a bit more simplistic, with characters who seem to exist mostly to explain viewpoints and basic international politics. Similarly the flashback sequence that explains how Mitchell now comes to be married feels rather like the author saying "oops, forgot to put anything about this in the last book".

Plenty of tech porn, particularly the Cormorant UAV, and Carlson remembers that he's not writing in the 1980s or 1990s; this is very much a post-Cold-War book, where the speed with which information is learned and passed around can be more important than the speed of a boat.

For me, not quite as good as the first two, but certainly still enjoyable.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

See also:
Cold Choices, Larry Bond and Chris Carlson


  1. Posted by Phil Masters at 08:22am on 16 April 2014

    Nitpick time; if they're Iranians, they're probably not Arabs...

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 08:27am on 16 April 2014

    Yeah, sorry, I do know better. Let's say "when he tries to write Muslims"; I don't know enough of the cultural differences to say whether he gets that particular distinction right.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Search
Archive
Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio tech base commerce battletech beer boardgaming bookmonth chain of command children chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 existential risk falklands war fandom fantasy film firefly first world war flash point food garmin drive gazebo geodata gin gurps gurps 101 harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life kickstarter learn to play leaving earth linux mecha museum mystery naval non-fiction one for the brow opera perl photography podcast politics powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha quantum rail ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1