I have read Robert Ludlum’s books about Covert One previously and the author, James H. Cobb has taken the characters that Ludlum created and wrote a very good story containing those characters. Lieutenant Colonel Jon Smith is a member of Covert One, a secret spy agency made up of top spooks from various agencies. They work together as teams when and where needed.
A random photo taken in the wilds of the Canadian Arctic contained the image of an airplane, vintage WW II and apparently Russian. This image started a hastily arranged covert operation to seek out this airplane that had disappeared with its crew some fifty-years ago. The Russians and the United States government joined forces to find this wreckage and seek out what had happened to cause this crash and what cargo was aboard. Smith, a medical doctor with the US army is teamed with an old acquaintance, Randi Russell, a CIA operative, and Valentina (Val) Metrace, Professor of History, to become the Covert One team to go and investigate the wreckage.
Major Gregori Smyslov was assigned by the Russian government to join with Jon Smith and his team. The cargo in the plane was sealed containers of Anthrax that no one knew the stability of it or what condition the plane was in after fifty-years. Also there was something very secret and urgent that the Russians had to find first and destroy. Major Smyslov was sworn to secrecy to the point of having orders to kill anyone that found this “secret” also, even if it was the Americans. The level of trust between the Covert One team and the Russian major was non-existent, at least to begin with. Unknown to any of this investigative team was that a group of rogue armament dealers were in search of the anthrax and would kill anyone that got in their way.
The above circumstances of trust or lack of it between the United States and Russian governments was always there as this mission got underway. The brutal weather conditions in that area of the world was not people friendly. They never knew when a storm would come up and stop any progress while trapping the groups where they were until the storm subsided. The only way to reach the area was by helicopter, airplane, or ice-cutting ships that sometimes could cut through to reach Wednesday Island, where all the activity occurred.
There were many mental and physical battles occurring making the reader eager to keep reading this fast paced story with lots of action. The struggle became a mental game for those involved. As you read you may think that some of the action is a bit predictable but the way it played out made your predictions waver and change as you read. The breakdown of communications becomes a huge part of the story. Knowing there was a support ship with helicopter crews and soldiers off the coast was comforting but not having communications at many times with them made things terrible. The land communications also were a struggle partly because of weather and partly because of sabotage.
That level of trust still wavered between the Russian and Covert One but at times that trust had to be strong, with the circumstances and the weather, continually presenting such a fierce enemy. Lots of strategic planning sometimes worked out but many times it backfired requiring the return to another plan, and that new plan had to be followed through at once.
This is a very good read. As I finished “The Arctic Event” I couldn’t help but think that the author had a great platform for a series containing some of the same characters in the book. I hope this team of writers continues to give us more interesting and exciting reading.
REVIEWED BY CY HILTERMAN
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