Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: action adventure, political thriller, technothriller, thriller
Series: Miranda Chase NTSB #13
Published by Buchman Bookworks on September 17, 2023
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop.org, Better World Books
Russia teeters on the brink of collapse, spoiling for a battle to end all wars. All it needs? One thin excuse. World War I began with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. World War II launched with the invasion of Poland. As for Russia's invasion of Ukraine... A Russian flyby of an American CMV-22 Osprey tiltrotor goes desperately wrong over the North Sea. Will the tipping point for World War III break the moment a favored daughter of the Oligarchy goes down in flames? When the NSA's secret military base at Menwith Hill in the UK needs specialized expertise, they call in Miranda Chase. She and her elite team of air-crash investigators must avert a crisis like none before. A crisis that unravels her past, batters at her autism, and threatens to crush her team in the ultimate grinder of East vs. West. "Miranda is utterly compelling!" - Booklist, starred review "Escape A. Five Stars! OMG just start with Drone and be prepared for a fantastic binge-read!" -Reading Reality
Osprey, in addition to being about the investigation of a series of airplane crashes, as the books in the Miranda Chase series always are, is fundamentally the story of a woman who has based her life on a series of truths that turn out to be lies.
Miranda Chase is not merely A lead investigator for the National Transportation and Safety Board, but at this point in the series, THE premiere investigator for the NTSB. Miranda, along with her team, are the people that not just the NTSB but federal government all the way up to the President call whenever the crash is either too thorny for a regular investigator OR, as is very much true in this particular case, has the potential to start World War III and/or bring about the end of the world.
Considering the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and other countries, they are likely to be one and the same.
Which is what drags Miranda and her team out of their vacation in Yorkshire, hiking the Herriot Trail, all the way to the top secret US/UK communication and intelligence support station at RAF Menwith Hill, which is, according to Miranda’s teammate Holly Harper, the place where the world ends. Because, on Holly’s last mission for Australia’s SSAR, Menwith Hill’s sister station in Pine Gap ended Holly’s.
This time around, they’re about to end Miranda’s – even as she and her team prevent the end of pretty much everyone else’s in the whole damn world.
Escape Rating A+: This was one of those books that turned out to be a much harder read than I was expecting – even as it sucked me right in and wouldn’t let me go until the end. By saying Osprey is a ‘hard read’ I mean that in the sense that, 13 books into this series, I’ve become very fond of Miranda and her team and hate seeing any of them in serious distress. But it’s clear that this is the 13th book in the series for a reason in that it seems like all the bad luck and worse trouble in Miranda’s life comes home to roost in this one and probably won’t leave anytime soon.
Like all of the books in this series so far, starting with the marvelous Drone and continuing through ALL of the team’s compelling adventures along the way, each story pretty much has two plots. The first is the actual plot that results in the crash that Miranda and company are tasked with investigating. The second line is tied up in a particular team member’s personal circumstances, whether that’s how they become part of the team, falling in love with either a fellow team member, a friend or an enemy, or when those relationships crash and burn.
With the case in Osprey it’s a question of which will burn first, Miranda or the entire world, which makes the stakes the highest they can be on both sides of that equation.
The initial crash could have, and in other circumstances would have, been put down to pilot error combined with a bit of stupid people doing stupid things. In other words, humans just being human – unfortunately at tens of thousands of feet in the air while piloting state of the art aircraft.
The situation escalates, and fast, because the initial less-than-stellar piloting was on the part of a Russian military jet playing ‘chicken’ with a brand new U.S. craft that is capable of switching from taking off like a helicopter to flying like an airplane. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? But when the jet’s wings got tied up in the Osprey’s proprotor, everything went to hell in a handbasket and both countries, already über tense – as they are in real life – were on the brink of nuclear war.
Figuring out how that crash occurred, and the even stupider one that followed, is all in a day’s work for Miranda and her team. The President of the U.S. is thrilled to take her very expert word that the crash was merely the stuff of stupid and not a deliberate provocation to war.
But the Russian side of this equation is a whole lot messier. A mess which raises questions about just how Miranda’s parents REALLY died – because the newly discovered and always obscured – evidence makes it clear that it didn’t exactly happen the way that the world, even the CIA’s hidden world, believed it did. And that’s only the beginning of how Miranda’s world falls apart, even as the rest of the world gets put back together. At least for now.
The reader knows most of what’s coming – at least as far as Miranda’s parents’ deaths are concerned – from the very first scene, so that’s not exactly a spoiler. We know it’s going to be devastating, and we’re waiting for that shoe to drop through the entire book. It’s agonizing. It’s also not all she’ll have to contend with, but getting into that would be a spoiler.
Let’s just say that on Miranda’s personal front, this is a heartbreaking story and it’s hard to watch her even begin to go through the inevitable fallout. Howsomever, as one of the strengths of this series is the way that the characters and relationships change and grow over time, Miranda’s situation is one that I expect to see explore and change and resolve over the next several books in the series, starting with Gryphon, coming in late January of 2024.
One final note; there’s a surprising bit of a parallel to The Last Devil to Die, the most recent book in the Thursday Murder Club series. The leaders of each series, Miranda and Elizabeth, are brought low by heart-shattering personal catastrophes, and it’s up to the other members of their teams to keep the case on track even as their leader, rightfully and righteously, falls apart for an understandable bit. It’s terrible seeing those leaders stumble and fall, but lovely to watch the other members of their teams carry them and carry on.