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Wednesday, 17 June 2020

‘Bikini State Red’ by Paul Whiteman


Published by Matador,
28 January 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-83859150-2 (PB)

It's September in the early 1990's and Naval Lieutenant John McAdam comes across a cabin cruiser while he is out birdwatching on the deserted Norfolk coast, a place well known for smuggling. He is invited aboard and from then on disappears.

Meanwhile in London, ex Navel Commander Tom Falconer and his partner Alice Silk meet up with Tom's friends from the Navy and can't understand where McAdam can have got to. He was to have been there with his wife Mary. When Mary rings them distraught at his apparent disappearance, Tom and Alice go up to Norfolk to be with her. An Inspector Lomax of the Ministry of Defence Police is in charge of finding the missing Navy man and a helicopter searches the marshes and surrounding areas but there is no sign of McAdam.

Tom having taken recent early retirement has time on his hands and takes it upon himself to find out what happened to his friend.  In the course of his enquiries he finds out that sea trials are planned for an Advanced Guided Missile System aboard the ship H.M.S. Athena in the North Atlantic and all his naval friends will be serving aboard.

We then learn that the Russians have heard of the trials and have put a “sleeper” on board. The intention is to steal the missile system and put it overboard with a tracking device attached to be picked up later by divers, and then transferred to a submarine.  The trials go well, but when Athena is returning and is just off the Norfolk coast, both the system and its inventor Peter Tolley, also aboard are missing.  A security alert goes out when submarine activity is picked up and Bikini State Red is declared allowing military groups to react if necessary.

Meanwhile Tom becomes convinced that it must be one of his friends on board H.M.S. Athena who is the “sleeper”. Together with his partner Alice he is determined to discover who. This however puts them both in grave danger and they have more than one narrow escape.

It then becomes apparent that there must be another Russian agent, this time someone in a much higher position, but who?
Can Tom and Alice discover the traitors before they themselves are silenced?

What a brilliant book, succinct, informative, and straight to the point. The suspense is kept up throughout and builds nicely to a few surprise revelations.  A really good read and one which I highly recommend.
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Reviewer:  Tricia  Chappell

Paul Whiteman worked professionally as a medical doctor and research scientist. His interests in maritime affairs started as a Sea Cadet in the 1950s. He has skippered his own boat around the English coast. Now Cambridge-based, his amateur interests also include the design and development of autonomous robotic systems.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

   

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