Harold Coyle's Strategic Solutions Inc.
This is the second volume in a trilogy. Strategic Solutions Inc. is a private security contractor handling messy jobs for the U.S. government. Mike Derringer, founder of SSI, is a retired rear admiral with many useful political and military connections. He hires the best men and women he can get – ex-special forces, pilots, people with unique and special skills.
As the novel begins, the U.S. State Department urgently requests SSI to provide training for an elite unit in Chad. Meanwhile, someone is killing off rival mercenaries, a Chadian official is scheming, and why does all the intelligence track back to the same source?
Eventually, the trainers (and their trainees) are alerted to a plot to ship yellowcake out of Chad. This time, they must fight against French mercenaries, led by a ruthless ex-Foreign Legion soldier and his psychotic girlfriend.
The book once again has a large cast of characters, telling the story from the perspective of the SSI team in Chad, the French mercenaries, and SSI corporate back in the U.S. Many characters from the first volume in the series return, but there are a few additions.
You might expect that with Harold Coyle as one of the authors, the novel would provide plenty of tactical situations that could easily be turned into scenarios. Unfortunately, there are only two tactical situations this time – the storming of a mining site, and the seizure of a smuggling vessel on the high seas.
(The book's cover art – a battleship – once again has nothing to do with this plot!)
I found this book to be a huge let-down after the first volume in the series. Too much time is spent describing planning meetings, and not enough action. The plot is "dark" with double-dealing governments, murderous mercenaries, and uncertain allies – this might be unpalatable for some readers. The French girlfriend character is alternately presented as murderer, torturer, bumbling drunk, and manipulated victim – it didn't add up to a coherent character for me. While the novel seems to be setting up the next book in the series, the ending in this novel provides no real winners. Realistic? Probably. Fun? Not really.
The mining site attack may interest wargamers, though it would need to be tweaked to make it playable. Similarly, boarding a smuggling vessel on the high seas is an interesting challenge that could be wargamed, but it also would need changes to make it playable.
I didn't care much for this one. I hope the third volume gets back on track.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .