A taut and enigmatic SF nail-biter that offers plenty of tension and action…
Hochsmann melds high-tech gadgetry and fast action with elements of science fiction in this first-rate action thriller. The baffling discovery of an abandoned and oddly destroyed drug-runner’s derelict boat throws Coast Guard Officer Ben Wyporek and his crew in the path of 252 Syndicate, a transitional criminal organization. Aided by Dr. Peter Simmons, a mysterious government agent, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Kauai races to locate a crashed alien vessel. But their aging Cutter Kauai stands no chance in front of 252 Syndicate’s advanced technology. The operation quickly turns into a life or death situation with both parties racing to locate the vessel and access advanced extraterrestrial technology. A sense of authenticity permeates the story, and despite abundance of the military jargon and technical mumbo jumbo, Hochsmann mostly keeps the momentum strong. The chapters move seamlessly as new revelations unravel at a relentless pace. The interesting speculations about the destroyed alien vessel and floating alien conspiracy theories are integrated skillfully into the plot, and Hochsmann expertly evokes Coast Guard landscape, military protocols, people, and politics associated with wide-scaled extra-terrestrial conspiracies. His deeply realized characters complement his cleverly executed plot. Ben with his well-rounded world-weariness and edgy impatience makes for an electrifying protagonist who is determined to protect his crew and friends at any cost. His profoundly protective nature and his struggle with realistic moral dilemmas gives an authenticity to his character while the run-ins with DIA Agent Simmons add to his allure. The excessively secretive Simmons and the overly-cautious Samuel are both relatable and convincing. The secondary cast is sketched with equal conviction: they’re multifaceted humane characters, each with a full array of strengths and weaknesses, each fighting to realize their collective goal. The crew’s everyday interactions add levity while their growing bond reinforces that a normal life exists for them onboard despite the circumstances. Hochsmann seems to have fun while creating Coast Guard protocols and precise military language and culture. It hampers the flow of the narrative, but at the same time the descriptions make the Coast Guard landscape a fascinating place. Some of the military gadgets, including USCGS Kauai and cutters Polar and Skua are fictional instantiations of the original, but Hochsmann succeeds in infusing over-the-top technology with authenticity. This is a wonderfully intricate SF action thriller, and one not to be missed.
Engage at Dawn
By Edward Hochsmann
Pub date August 4, 2020
Price $2.99 (USD) Kindle edition, $12.99 Paperback