When an unforeseen asteroid strikes Siberia with the force of a thousand Hiroshimas, it triggers Dead Hand, the ultimate defense mechanism developed by the Soviets at the height of the Cold War.
The missiles are pointing at the United States and its European allies, and ultra-nationalist General Likatchev is willing to use them as blackmail to topple the government in Moscow and return Russia to her status as world power.
When Russia responds to world queries with cold silence, a NATO special operations unit is dropped into Siberia. Trapped in a region ravaged by freezing snow and the hellish aftermath of the asteroid impact, the NATO forces are racing against time to track down Likatchev and dismantle Dead Hand before a global holocaust is unleashed.
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Never one to spare readers his personal insights into all things military, Coyle (God's Children; Team Yankee; etc.) goes overboard in this uneventful, didactic thriller about a NATO-led assault to destroy Russia's nuclear missile silos. The title refers to an automated Russian doomsday system designed to retaliate against a first strike, even if the country's whole population has been wiped out. NATO launches its raid after an enormous asteroid hits Siberia. The resulting shock waves, whose seismic signature is identical to that of a nuclear explosion, activate Dead Hand, bringing the world to the brink of a nuclear exchange. The person who now has his finger on the button is renegade Gen. Igor Likatchev, who views the situation as his opportunity to throw the country into such turmoil that it will allow him to stage a coup. Moscow, fearful that Likatchev may be crazy enough to activate Siberia's network of nuclear missiles, dispatches its own contingent of commandos to assassinate the exiled general. NATO forces, on the other hand, aim to destroy the missile silos, neutralizing Likatchev and disabling Russia's nuclear capability. Coyle, who usually delivers gritty, hard-driving (and bestselling) war novels, founders with his latest. A former army officer who spent 17 years on active duty, he shows a deep understanding of power politics and fighting techniques, but his exposition-heavy plot spends far too much time describing commandos readying themselves for battle, explaining military procedures and examining the specific qualities of the soldier mindset. When the action finally begins about two-thirds of the way through the book its course is predictable. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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May 01, 2001
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