‘Executive Intent’ lacks fast-paced plot of author’s previous work

Even though he is a New York Times best-selling author, Dale Brown caters to a specific audience, an audience that can put up with (and even enjoy) paragraphs such as the one below that are found in his latest novel, “Executive Intent”:
“The Vampire’s ADS, or Active Defense System, was a pair of free-electron laser emitters, one atop and one underneath the fuselage. When the laser radar detected an incoming missile, the ADS lasers would slave themselves to the LADAR and attack the missiles with beams of white-hot laser energy powerful enough to destroy the thin dielectric nose cap of most surface-to-air missiles at long range.”
Brown, a former U.S. Air Force captain, is well-versed in military technology and has a superb imagination in writing his techno-thrillers. He creates some mind-blowing hardware, including the famous Tin Man suit (a poor man’s Iron Man), which seem to be dream projects of the military-industrial complex.
But Brown, a Southern Nevada resident, usually has a rip-roaring plot in his stories that usually outweigh all the military-speak and machinations, which can become very tedious.
Not this time.
“Executive Intent” has no real narrative punch — just a bunch of set pieces cobbled together that vaguely resemble a novel. His latest story is all over the map (literally and figuratively), and the action scenes aren’t that exciting. Unlike his last novel, “Rogue Forces,” a lot of the action this time takes place in low-Earth orbit and in the skies above the Middle East. Plus there’s a lot of talking and political maneuvering involving President Joseph Gardner, Vice President Ken Phoenix (who has an eye on the Oval Office himself) and a horde of Chinese and Russian officials.
The main plot in “Rogue Forces” featured Turkey invading northern Iraq and threatening to go further until the U.S. thwarted them. It had a real-world feel and lot of pulsating ground action, especially involving the Tin Men.
“Executive Intent” involves China invading Somalia, Yemen and capturing the vital shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden. But the action comes late in the book, and there’s no explosive confrontation between anyone. Brown spends half of “Executive” stuck in space and talking about anti-satellite systems and the Mjollnir, a precision-guided artificial meteorite that can strike anywhere on Earth in a matter of seconds.
Although I haven’t read all of Brown’s novels, I get the feeling that “Executive Intent” is a set-up for a future novel. Let’s hope that it’s better than this one.


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