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Treason by Rick Campbell

Published by St. Martin's Press on March 19, 2019

Treason is the fifth novel in Rick Campbell’s Trident Deception series. The only other one I’ve read is the third, Ice Station Nautilus. I enjoyed that one because I’m a sucker for submarine novels. Happily, there are submarines in Treason, although submarine fans will need to wait until Chapter 12 to voyage below the surface of the sea. The two series entries I’ve read share some central characters, but can easily be read as stand-alone novels.

The focus is on National Security Advisor Christine O’Connor, with whom Russia’s post-Putin president would like to have an affair. Since Christine killed some important Russians in an earlier novel, the president’s libidinous intent is unsettling to other members of the Russian government, who believe that justice requires Christine to be assassinated before the president has a chance to get her into bed. Fortunately for Christine, they aren’t the president. Unfortunately for Christine, sleeping with Russia’s president does not occupy a position on her bucket list, and she has been invited to his summer home for what the president hopes will be a tryst. What’s a National Security Advisor to do? Détente between the sheets?

Christine is still peeved at a SEAL named Jake Harrison because, after she twice rejected his proposals, he promised to wait for her, then stopped waiting after ten years. Don’t promises like that come with an automatic expiration date? Before the novel is over, Christine will have another unreasonable reason to be angry with Harrison.

Before that soap opera unfolds, a group of Russian military leaders plot an unsanctioned act involving a secret weapon that, they believe, will cripple NATO and allow Russia to reclaim Ukraine, the Baltic States, and half of Poland. Their success requires them to get Russia’s president out of the way until he is on board with the plot or dead, whichever is most convenient. Unfortunately for Christine, she has a front row view of the coup. The coincidence that once again places Christine at the heart of the action is a bit contrived and the secret weapon isn’t all that believable, but thrillers often require the suspension of disbelief, so I rolled with it.

Other aspects of Treason are also a bit of a stretch — particularly a SEAL invasion of Russia's Ministry of Defense, which didn’t strike me as even remotely plausible — but after the initial set-up, the novel sustains such a rapid pace that the reader won’t have time to wonder whether the story is credible. Sometimes plausibility gives way to enjoying the action on multiple fronts. Christine and Russia’s president try to stay a step ahead of the Russian plotters who want to kill them; the American president and his team try to figure out why America’s military technology has fallen under Russian control; and the submarine sends a Navy SEAL team into Russia on a rescue mission before engaging in an undersea battle against a bunch of Russian subs. Fun stuff.

Campbell doesn’t put much effort into characterization, but Treason works well as a military action novel. Even with SEALs running around, the emphasis isn’t on tough guys being tough. A female protagonist who isn’t in the military and who manages to be tough without having a tough guy persona makes the story more interesting than testosterone-laden action stories. Given my fascination with submarine novels, I particularly enjoyed the detailed submarine chapters, but I recommend Treason to anyone who enjoys military thrillers or fast moving action stories.


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