A Book Spy Review: ‘Treason’ by Rick Campbell

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TreasonWhen a military coup results in an overthrow of the Russian president, the Kremlin launches a daring attack against the United States in this gripping new thriller from Rick Campbell (Blackmail, 2017, etc.).

Russian President Yuri Kalinin knows his military has a secret weapon, but after recent unsuccessful tests, he’s reluctant to use it. Doing so would certainly mean drawing America into a nuclear war, something he’s not anxious to do—which can’t be said for those around him. Others inside the Kremlin want to take back Ukraine and the Baltic States and are ready to deal with the fallout of invading the NATO nations, even if it means going toe-to-toe with the United States. 

Back in America, the president, sensing trouble is on the horizon, tasks national security adviser Christine O’Connor with heading to Russia in order to negotiate a nuclear arms treaty directly with Kalinin. Instead, O’Connor finds herself caught in the middle of a military coup, when Kalinin’s chief of the general staff, Sergei Andropov, orchestrates an overthrow and has Kalinin removed from power. Hellbent on implementing the Zolotov option using their newly redesigned “secret weapon,” a sophisticated malware code, to render America’s B-2 bombers and ballistic missiles useless, Russia quickly invades the NATO countries while America’s forces are too wounded to mobilize.  

Though their forces aren’t at full-strength, the United States refuses to sit back and do nothing, drawing up their own daring plan to hit back—one that involves sending SEAL team Commander Jack Harrison and his team into Russia to locate and secure Yuri Kalinin, who might be their best hope at preventing a full-scale, all-out nuclear war. 

With the countdown to World War III rapidly approaching zero, it’s up to the United States military to once again answer the call before the world reaches the point of no return. 

It’s hard to believe that Campbell, who didn’t release a book in 2018, has yet to crack the New York Times list. One knock I’ve seen on his stuff is that his books don’t necessarily have a defined, fleshed-out protagionist. In a world where Mitch Rapp, Scot Harvath, and Gabriel Allon dominate the genre, readers have no doubt shown a tendency to gravitate towards a series character. So, while Cambell sure feels like the heir to Clancy’s throne, poised to one day sit atop the military technothriller genre, he lacks a true Jack Ryan-like character. Still, some may be missing the bigger picture, as the military as a whole—and the brave men and women who make up the armed forces—are the stars here, and Campbell, a retired Navy commander, portrays them authentically. 

Moreover, Campbell—whose smooth writing is on full display here—has shown a deep understanding of geopolitics over the years, and while all of his novels have been large in scope, none have been quite as big as Treason, which reads like a cross between Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October and the recently released Hunter Killer film, which stars Gerard Butler as a submarine captain charged with saving the Russian president in an effort to avoid a war. While the comparisons to that movie are rather striking, Campbell’s thriller adds more depth and soul to the story, and it offers a more complete look at what a potential showdown between Russia and the United States could look like. There’s also plenty of action, including a high-powered opening, sprinkled throughout. 

While Larry Bond and David Poyer, both longtime veterans of the thriller genre, are still churning out top-notch stuff, nobody’s doing it better than Rick Campbell—who makes his return to the genre after a one-year hiatus felt in a big way . . . Treason is the must-read book of the year for military and technothriller enthusiasts. 

Book Details

Author: Rick Campbell
Series: Trident Deception #5
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250164656
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: March 19, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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