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Monday, 11 July 2011

Jingo All The Way

The Delta Solution: An International Thriller
Patrick Robinson (Vanguard Press, 2011)

“I want to be very clear that we are resolved to halt the rise of piracy in that region and to achieve that goal, we’re going to have to continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks.”

This warning was issued by U.S. President Barack Obama on April 13, 2009, after a daring high seas rescue in which U.S. Navy SEAL snipers killed three Somali pirates and freed an American sea captain who had offered himself as a hostage to save his crew. However, Jamac Habeb, a 30-year-old pirate, subsequently told the Associated Press at the time, “From now on, if we capture foreign ships and their respective countries try to attack us, we will kill them (the hostages).” Adding, “(U.S. forces have) become our No. 1 enemy.”

Patrick Robinson’s new novel, The Delta Solution is unapologetically ripped from such well known dramatic incidents, and the ongoing threat posed by the rise of piracy throughout the Indian Ocean, stemming from East Africa.  Robinson’s approach is one of jingoist all-American force and military success at any cost (though Robinson himself is not American, hailing from the Emerald Isle).

The story revolves around an increasing number of pirate attacks, each more brazen and fruitful than the last. A very well-armed and organized group calling themselves The Somali Marines, are behind the attacks, receiving their information about valuable ships, their cargoes, and their routes from an unscrupulous American shipping executive, for no other reason than simple cash rewards.

The dilemma faced by those determined to put an end to the deplorable practice involves insurance companies who would rather pay ransoms than risk, and what the author perceives to be weak left-leaning governments. Enter then, the US Navy SEALS. Their mission is to not only rescue a particular ship from the clutches of the pirates, but to teach them a lesson that will deter them, and others, from ever attempting such illicit operations in the future.

An entire makeshift city has sprung up amidst the general poverty of Somalia, where the pirates and their investors base their very lucrative business. A stock market has even been created where shares are bought and sold based on the estimated bounty of each successful newly-captured ship.
Add into the mix a band of al-Qaeda soldiers who find the pirates’ loot too tempting to be ignored, and you’ve got a fast paced, unrelenting action novel that gets more exciting as the stakes are ratcheted up, culminating in an explosive finale where the SEALS must prevail or die trying.

I would have preferred the author to have kept his political leanings out of the narrative, where he, at one point, calls the British Navy cowards for certain events, and states that “Even Westminster, battered by thirteen years of half-crazed left-wing doctrine, muscled up under a new and more right wing government”, and “the squeals of the liberal European Union would no longer be heeded”.

Such proclamations are acceptable, and necessary to build tension and conflict, but they should be offered from the characters, not in the narrative. That only serves to pull the reader away from the story, a stark reminder that you’re reading a tale, and one written by someone with strong political opinions. If an author wants to get his stance across, it needs to be seamlessly integrated into the story, so the reader can maintain his or her suspension of disbelief, and sense of involvement.

But you don’t (necessarily) need to be a jingoistic right-wing fanatic to enjoy The Delta Solution. It is still an exciting adventure with a strong message regardless of your leanings.  I wouldn’t even have felt the need to mention the politics had the author been a little more tactful in his expressions, but as it was, the issue was too large to be ignored.

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