“Steel Fear” has nary a car chase, but is a nail-biting thriller none the less; there is increasing tension and mystery on every page. There are three distinct and compelling characters, Monica Halsey helicopter pilot, Chief Finn, a SEAL on special assignment, and aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln with its 6000 souls. The atmosphere of the USS Abraham Lincoln permeates the narrative. It is an entity like no other, everything sharp and modern, and it never sleeps as it travels the world. Life on the carrier is impossibly busy, a blur of action and hustle. Jet pilots are strapped into their multimillion-dollar machines, and then shot off the deck like bullets. It can also be the loneliest place on earth. The USS Abraham Lincoln offers protection from foreign enemies, but now its greatest threat comes from inside.
Monica Halsey has her eye on qualifying as a helicopter aircraft commander working her way up the career ladder. She is a brooder and an introspective anticipator of trouble; she knows that if something bad has not happened, it is about to. She is also a maintenance officer, responsible for all their shop’s work. Chief Finn is a SEAL on special assignment, picked up by USS Abraham Lincoln. Finn is a deeply troubled soul with his own secrets, hidden demons that even he cannot clarify or identify. He is a sniper; he stalks the ship silently, discretely, like a patch of mist. He constantly watches, observes, memorizes everything around him. He does not know precisely what he is looking for, a behavior out of place, a contradiction, but he will recognize it when he finds it.
Everything aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln changes with two words “man overboard.” Did he fall, did he jump, or was he pushed? Death has come, and is not leaving; it is stalking the ship. Is there a serial killer? There are no crime scenes, no weapons, or hard evidence for deaths that may or may not be homicides. If this were a city murder, if would be easy, but this is the USS Abraham Lincoln. The plot unfolds in a calculated, well planned manner, slowly at first, then picking up speed, like a poisonous wind. The unknown hangs over everyone, and it is a race against time to uncover secrets and a killer.
I received a review copy of “Steel Fear” from Brandon Webb, John David Mann, Bantam Books, and Random House Publishing. It is expertly written with a deliberate and calculated timeline that enhances the tension. Once you start reading, it is impossible to put down.