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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425


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The Aden Effect                    Syren's Song

Cover Art: The Aden Effect

The Aden Effect
By Claude Berube
Naval Institute Press, 2012, ISBN 978-1-61251-109-2, US $27.95 / CAN $31.00
eBook ISBN 978-1-61251-110-8, $15.37

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An outcast after the death of his men and a court-martial, Connor Stark lives in the Western Isles of Scotland minding his own business and enjoying a drink at his girlfriend’s pub until two uniformed military officers inform him that he is back in the U. S. Navy and must come with them. Following orders is about the last thing Connor wants, until a trio of East Africans attempt to kill him.

Faisal leads a team of Somali pirates in a successful bid to hijack a supertanker in the Gulf of Aden. Having no need of captives to ransom, they ruthlessly murder the crew and disappear. One of his men, however, takes the captain’s gold watch and sends it to his cousin in America.

Ambassador C. J. Sumner arrives in Yemen intent on negotiating contracts for oil from the offshore rigs that Maddox International has been building for the Yemeni government. Being a Western woman in a Muslim nation merely complicates the situation, and when she requests assistance from naval forces to protect Maddox employees, she discovers that only one ship remains from Task Force 151 and her captain is more concerned with fuel status and fresh vegetables. Washington provides little help either; the Chief of Staff seems more interested in getting her to resign. Finding herself with no other options, she calls in a favor and gets Connor Stark assigned as her defense attaché since he has friends within the Yemini government.

In the Diplomatic Security Service, Damion Golzari investigates the death of the son of Secretary Dunner, a family friend who helped Golzarri’s family escape from Iran after the overthrow of the Shah. A search of the victim’s room turns up illegal drugs, a gold watch, and the name “Abdi Mohammed Asha” – an elusive terrorist. The trail leads Damion to London, where someone tries to kill him, then Yemeni where he unfortunately crosses paths with Stark. The two men detest each other, but an attempt on CJ’s life and Yemeni militants planning to create unrest within the country force Damion and Connor to work together. They must unravel an intricate web of intrigue, betrayal, and power to thwart the evil master plan that threatens not only Yemen, but also the United States.

Over the course of twenty-two days, Berube takes readers on a cyclonic rollercoaster ride with hair-raising serpentine twists and turns that will make the reader’s skin crawl at the all-too-real possibility of an international conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of government. His experience working in the Office of Naval Intelligence and being deployed to the Persian Gulf shine through, while his masterful storytelling takes you to distant shores and places you right in the midst of riveting action. The Aden Effect is a compelling and disturbing thriller that readers will long remember.

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  Review Copyrighted ©2013 Cindy Vallar

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Cover Art: Syren's Song
Syren’s Song
By Claude Berube

Naval Institute Press, 2015, ISBN 978-1-61251-915-9, $28.95

e-book ISBN 978-1-61251-914-2, $19.99


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Warned of a pending guerrilla attack on ports in Sri Lanka, the admiral mounts preparations to protect them. When the Tamil Sea Tigers’ assault begins, all the technological advancements at his disposal prove useless. Within minutes the navy’s ships and personnel have been decimated.

Connor Stark, founder of Highland Maritime Defense, heads to India to oversee the shakedown cruise of a new ship before turning Syren over to her permanent crew. The destruction of the Sri Lankan navy thwarts those plans, when the country’s ambassador offers Stark a letter of marque to provide security for Sri Lanka and to gather intelligence about the Sea Tigers for the American navy ships on loan to Sri Lanka. Although it sounds like an easy job, experience has taught Stark that nothing is ever easy. But the money offered is sufficient to pay for more upgrades to Syren and a bonus to her crew and security team.

Journalist Melanie Arden heads to Sri Lanka as a favor – a simple request until the ransacked and abandoned farming village resurrects memories of her time in Rwanda and Bosnia. Determined to expose the villains responsible and hold them accountable for the evil they do, she soon finds herself a prisoner of the Sea Tigers.

“Patient” and “lethal” are the two words that perfectly describe Vanni, leader of the Sea Tigers. He has waited a long time to exact his revenge. Now, with the help of a young scientist, he has a new and powerful weapon that will allow him to destroy those responsible for killing his comrades and to create a new nation.

Damien Golzari’s latest investigation takes him to Singapore where a fellow diplomatic security agent has been murdered. Golzari soon discovers his friend’s death is tied to a secretive research company, missing equipment, and an element called hafnium. The trail leads him back home to the States where assassins await. The botched attempt to kill him and what he learns about hafnium lead him to Sri Lanka. Getting there proves something of a problem until a friend offers him a ride aboard USS LeFon.

After the terrorist attack, Commander Jaime Johnson and the crew of USS LeFon are sent to escort two littoral combat ships and an admiral to Sri Lanka. But that arrogant officer and Jaime have crossed paths before, and it takes all her self-control and presence of mind to keep control of her ship and protect her crew. On the day the three ships arrive, the admiral ignores Stark’s warning call and Jaime’s protests to devastating results.

Reading this second Connor Stark novel is like meeting up with old friends not seen in a long time. The characters are portrayed with such depth and realism that we are soon reacquainted and riveted on the edge of our seats as they recount this gripping thriller that unfolds over the course of thirty-three days. We have no problems feeling each one’s emotions, good and bad. This complicated tale is told in a way that we easily comprehend what’s happening – even the scientific aspects – and Berube expertly spins separate threads into an intricately woven tapestry that raises the hairs on our necks and sends shivers down our spines.

Review Copyrighted ©2016 Cindy Vallar

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