4 out of 4 stars
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What happens when a sophisticated, state-of-the-art warship with a unique source of power and propulsion is launched for trials? You get conspiracies, espionage, terrorist attacks, and multiple murders. This is indeed the unfortunate case of what surrounds her majesty, the powerful HMS Virago.
Lieutenant Commander David Livingston, captain of Virago, experiences anxiety over the sea trials of his ship, as attempts at sabotage threaten to derail the trials and safety of his crew. He receives stern orders from higher-ups to stay on course. The Admiralty, in response to the captain’s worries, dispatches Lt. Cdr. Philip Cassidy, a specialist in weaponry and an expert in special operations, to work undercover while he attempts to uncover and halt those behind the sabotage. Except, the road to discovery is not smooth sailing. When Cassidy captures the attention of the big fish responsible for the murky waters, it is not long before he finds himself fighting to stay alive. Will Cassidy be able to identify and expose the perpetrators, or will he be made to sleep with the fishes? Finally, will Virago complete her trials at sea successfully?
Deathly Cold by Anthony G. D. Hayes is a suspense-filled, thrilling, mystery novel that sets readers on an unforgettable shakedown cruise aboard Virago. The novel works as a stand-alone, but the ending is so explosive that it allows room for a sequel should the author choose to expand the narrative. I, for one, like the idea of a second book; in my mind, there are certain aspects of the story, especially the ending, worth further exploration.
Written in the third-person point of view, we mainly get to follow Cassidy in his thoughts and actions as he tries to unravel the mystery that is the ship’s saboteurs. Aboard Virago, we meet other characters such as the Fleet Chief, Clarke Coxswain; First Lieutenant, Rory Bannulph; and the Gunnery Officer, Blake-Smith, just to name a few. The author’s writing style allows us to get to know each of these characters intimately. Moreso, just when I thought I had figured it all out, the author introduced a backstory that added even more depth to the characters, and some of these backstories surprised me as they shone a new light on the characters. There were also adequate character descriptions, and the world-building was satisfactory, which are all pluses in my books.
I highly appreciated how the chapter titles brilliantly set the tone for what to expect without giving anything away. As the plot intensified, I had my suspicions, but I never felt sure. It was not until the last chapters that those behind the sabotage were unveiled, and it was then that I realized how way-off my suspicions were. I especially like that the author did not play it safe with the ending; I was still trying to come to terms with who the saboteur was on the ship when something unexpected happened. Without a doubt, the plot twists and shock factor elevated my experience with the novel. The narrative also had elements of rivalry, murder-mystery, and romance, which complemented the main themes. I also relished the moments of humor in the dialogues.
Overall, the setting and plot work well in weaving a believable and intriguing tale. The book appears to be professionally edited; in all the pages I read, I only found less than a handful of errors. This is a novel I would highly recommend to fans of the genre. Thus, I am happy to rate Deathly Cold 4 out of 4 Stars.
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