Sixteenth Watch by Myke Cole

You ever read a book to check it out for someone else? That’s what I basically did for this one. My dad recently went to his 50th class reunion from the Coast Guard Academy, and when I saw the blurb of Sixteenth Watch I thought maybe he would enjoy it. So I’m going to review this book thinking about my dad as the reader, but also put in some of my own thoughts along the way.

Here’s the blurb:

The Coast Guard must prevent the first lunar war in history.
A lifelong Search-and-Rescuewoman, Coast Guard Captain Jane Oliver is ready for a peaceful retirement. But when tragedy strikes, Oliver loses her husband and her plans for the future, and finds herself thrust into a role she’s not prepared for. Suddenly at the helm of the Coast Guard’s elite SAR-1 lunar unit, Oliver is the only woman who can prevent the first lunar war in history, a conflict that will surely consume not only the moon, but earth as well.

Starting with a shootout between two groups of miners on the surface of the moon, one American and one Chinese, Sixteenth Watch is a book that does a great job mixing character building with action. Coast Guard Captain Jane Oliver is widowed as her Navy husband is killed in the skirmish. She returns to Earth to grieve and get back on the water where she is most comfortable. She settles into a job instructing Coasties in boarding actions. Oliver is good at it and it distracts her from the pain and regrets she feels. She’s even ready to slide into retirement, but she is asked to consider a new command. A command that would entail training in boarding actions in space, specifically to ready a Coast Guard crew to compete in a reality show contest against teams from the other services. This show is the most popular ‘sport’ in the world. (Ummm… this is was a bit of a stretch. But I went with it.)

Oliver decides to go back to the moon… to face her past fears and take on a new challenge. But before she reports to the new command, she takes a three-week boarding training herself. This is the thing I really enjoyed about this character. Oliver is an impeccable leader. And Cole gets this part of the book perfectly for me. Her head is full of feelings, the pressure to succeed, the sorrow for her husband, and the responsibility of her mission. And these reflections are almost perfectly placed throughout the book.

The part that dragged for me was the minutiae of the exercises the crew goes through. I understood and Cole even tells the reader in a note before the start of the book that there would be a great deal of military acronyms and other jargon. But it still got to me. Yet, on the flip side, my father is a big fan of military thrillers, add that to his time in the CG and I think this book would be perfect for him.

There’s a number of minor characters who are fun but ultimately forgettable… and the undercurrent of tension that is foreshadowed throughout the first half of the book, it a bit predictable in the second half.

In short, cool character who fights a number of inner demons in a plot that is a little too military-based for this reader, but may be just the thing for a former member of Uncle Sam’s Confused Group.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, Angry Robot, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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