Finally, someone has written a techno-thriller that uses the most deadly airplane in the world as part of its premise.
We've had books centered around theoretical new super weapons, stealth aircraft and even refitted obsolete aircraft, but Maj. Chris Stewart , a B-1 pilot for the U.S. Air Force, has written "Shattered Bone," the first major thriller that makes good use of this superior weapon.
Richard Ammon seems to be the all-American hero. A hotshot young Air Force fighter pilot on the way up, he has a girl back home who loves him.
But Ammon is really Carl Kostenko, a young Ukranian who was taken from his parents during the Cold War and trained to be a Soviet spy in the United States. But after experiencing life in the United States, he decided he would rather be Richard Ammon for real. The end of the Cold War seemed to make that a possibility.
But now a dangerous, expansionist dictator has seized power in Russia, and the Ukraine has hired the spymaster who trained Richard to mount a mission to keep the Russians out of the Ukraine.
They want Richard to steal a B-1 bomber with its nuclear payload and mount a decisive mission against the Russian forces massing against his homeland. Richard appears to go along with the plan. After all, eliminating the Russian threat would good for the United States, too.
But is Richard the double agent his old bosses think, or has he added yet another level to the deception?
Whatever the case, Richard is going to mount one of the most daring raids in air combat history - and maybe one of the most important.
The title "Shattered Bone" is taken from the Air Force code name for a missing B-1 with missing nuclear weapons, (think "B-one" read as one word) and has all the details and authenticity one would expect from a thriller written by an Air Force major.
No one is going to mistake Stewart for John LeCarre, but the characterizations and scenario are solid; they're certainly good enough to pass muster in this genre. What really sets this book apart are the flying scenes, perhaps the best I've read since "Flight of the Intruder" and in a league with Craig Thomas's in "Firefox."
Since about half the book takes place in the air, the book moves with the power and speed of a B-1 at full throttle, taking readers on a wild ride that will have them turning the pages furiously.
"Shattered Bone" is an auspicious debut that ranks Stewart with Stephen Coonts and Dale Brown as pilots who can make the reader feel like they have joined them in the cockpit for a desperate mission in enemy skies.