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Monday, January 23, 2017


3.5 stars out of 5

If the thought of drones flying over your head to drop packages on your flower beds gives you the heebie-jeebies, just wait till you get a load of what they're doing here. The plot also touches on other hot-button issues of the day like how to get rid of nuclear waste and North Korea's potential for launching nuclear weapons in the direction of the good old U.S. of A.

Leading the charge on all counts is Marshall Hail, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics and a gazillionaire who makes his money by converting nuclear waste into a safe, long-lasting energy source. But along his path to success, his family was killed in a terrorist attack, and now he's out for revenge with the goal of annihilating every person on the FBI's list of Top 10 Terrorists. To accomplish that, he's rounded up a bunch of young people - mostly societal misfits - who are seriously adept at technology-related skills. He's also built an armada of ships, ostensibly to transport the nuclear waste, hat are equipped with weapons and drones of all sizes, shapes and abilities most folks would never believe possible.

High-up muckety-mucks in the U.S. government - including a female president - are aware of Hail (although not the extent of his toys). Cognizant that the last part North Korea needs to build its long-wanted missile is in transit, they make a somewhat reluctant agreement under which Hail will  deploy his drones - surreptitiously and anonymously, of course - to blow it up.

Because they don't fully trust Hail, they deploy a gorgeous female spy to get on his good (i.e., widower) side and infiltrate his mother ship, the Hail Nucleus, to keep them in the loop. But she, too, has an ax to grind against the world; to her own ends, she's desperate to capture the Russian bad guy who just happens to be providing said long-wanted missile to the North Koreans.

And so it goes till the end; chapters shift from settings in the United States, Korea and inside the Hail Nucleus. The race - and the chase - is on, and it's not until the end that readers find out who wins and who loses. There's a bit of levity here and there: When one of the government lackeys questions why operations names are "over the top" - Desert Storm, Rolling Thunder and the current one, Hail Storm - the response is that it's because no one wants to go before a Congressional committee to explain why "Operation Fluffy Puppy" should the deal go south.

All in all, it's an intriguing, well-thought-out plot, and I thank the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. Being honest, though, means I have to say the exposition is way overdone. It's obvious the author did a great deal of research in writing the book - which is commendable - but readers really don't need that much information to understand what's going on. I'd also suggest another run through by a copy editor - the number of misspellings, misplaced commas and other grammatical errors went way beyond my comfort level.

That said, if you're into technology and military action, this book is definitely worth a look-see.

Operation Hail Storm by Brett Arquette (Brett Arquette, November 2016); 354 pp.

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