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The Aden Effect

The Aden Effect

by Claude Berube

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In this exciting contemporary thriller, pirates are capturing ships at will off the Horn of Africa and the navies of the world cannot protect the international shipping lanes. In response, the newly confirmed Ambassador to Yemen, C.J. Sumner, is assigned by the White House to negotiate access to the rich oil fields off the island of Socotra and to convince the


In this exciting contemporary thriller, pirates are capturing ships at will off the Horn of Africa and the navies of the world cannot protect the international shipping lanes. In response, the newly confirmed Ambassador to Yemen, C.J. Sumner, is assigned by the White House to negotiate access to the rich oil fields off the island of Socotra and to convince the Yemenis’ to help deter the pirates. Meeting with resistance to her diplomatic overtures, Sumner becomes desperate as the White House Chief of Staff continues to question her ability to succeed in the mission. In need of someone in the military who knows the region and its people, the Ambassador recruits former naval officer turned mercenary Connor Stark who is reluctantly returned to active duty as her defense attaché.

Meanwhile, Diplomatic Security Agent Damien Golzari is investigating the domestic death of a State Department official’s son when he stumbles on to an illicit khat trade among Somali refugees in New England which he traces to the Horn of Africa. Witnesses are murdered in his wake as he travels to Yemen only to have his investigation interfered with by Stark.

As more ships are being attacked by pirates, Stark boards a Maddox International security ship, used to escort the company’s cargo platforms to the oil rigs. Pirates sink it, killing most of the crew. Stark is rescued by the morale-plagued USS Bennington, a Navy cruiser on its final deployment. Stark is returned to the Embassy and plans on meeting with his contact, a Yemeni businessman who is part of the ruling family. Sumner assigns Golzari to protect Stark as Golzari’s drug trail and murder investigation lead to a shipping company owned by Stark’s contact. Stark and Golzari are ambushed on their return to the Embassy leading them to believe there is a leak at the embassy or in Washington.

Sumner plans a humanitarian assistance mission to Socotra to earn the favor of the Yemeni government. All she is given by the White House is the only ship in the region – the USS Bennington. During an attack engineered by the pirates off Socotra, most of the ship’s officers are killed. Stark assumes command of the Bennington and plans a counterattack against the pirates. The ambitious counterattack is successful. Sumner negotiates a new treaty with the Yemenis and India to jointly develop the oil fields and provide mutual security from the Somali pirates.

Stark learns that the pirates have been organized and funded by a U.S. government official which leads to the White House. In a final confrontation between law and justice, Stark and Golzari must decide whether to challenge the most powerful man in the world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Reviewed by Justin Scott. No one can blame the Naval Institute Press for hunting another Red October. But even though Berube lays down military acronyms like suppressing fire (enough WEPSs, CHENGs, BUPERSs, RPGs, OODs and VERTREPs, to launch Tom Clancy fans toward their USNI Dictionary of Naval Terms), The Aden Effect deserves to cut its chains and steam on its own. Starring disgraced U.S. Navy commander-turned-mercenary Connor Stark in a sprawling battle against Somali pirates, Yemeni intrigue, al-Qaeda chaos, Chinese arrogance, and Washington treachery, it is an ambitious first novel by a former naval intelligence officer—but it’s astonishingly schizophrenic. It reads as if two people wrote it: an intelligence officer and an excellent writer mistakenly thrown in the brig. Berube has some interesting characters, but they talk too much, telling in leaden dialogue what’s going to happen, then what’s happening, then what happened. But when they finally shut up, the author provides exciting, plausible action—enough to make you hold your breath and squeeze the pages until they’re wet with perspiration. Even more to his credit, Berube’s prose has an unexpected emotional impact. The Navy stuff reads like he’s been there—although it’s oddly detached from the sea itself—perhaps reflecting the insulating effect of modern ships and high-tech gear. He’s happier in helicopters, while the best set piece—a terrific shoot-out involving Stark and his prickly sidekick and rival, U.S. diplomatic security special agent Damien Golzari—explodes miles from salt water on a rock in the desert. At his worst, Berube’s characters’ inner thoughts are trivial, if not downright banal, their ceaseless banter is forced, and their sensibilities and observations are oddly out-of-date. (When was the last time anyone got a bad meal in London’s splendid restaurants?) Similarly, his analysis of the political situation in the Horn of Africa reads as if he wrote the book some years ago and never got around to revising it. To be fair, trying to keep a thriller up to date is a mug’s game, as futile as trying to time the stock market. And the author does personalize the chaos with his portrait of the factitious family of Yemeni shipping magnate Mutahar. Clichés abound. Readers can hope Berube burned through them all—like his gallant, but lamely led, undermanned and budgetarily defanged cruiser USS Bennington running out of fuel—before he starts his next book, because his Connor Stark is a believable individual. Stark is, potentially, much more than the standard cynical and embittered victim of unfair treatment—a guy who has done what it took to move on and enjoy a life with friends and a wonderful lover, Maggie the Ullapool barkeep. I predict a tourist invasion of Maggie’s West Highlands fishing port led by readers of The Aden Effect, all demanding a dram of single malt in Maggie’s Friar John Cor pub. Justin Scott, author of The Shipkiller, collaborates with Clive Cussler on the Isaac Bell adventures (The Thief), and writes the Robert Ludlum Janson series (The Janson Command) under the pen name Paul Garrison.
From the Publisher

The Aden Effect is great find for two main reasons: One, this is a good read, well written, fast moving, tightly plotted, intelligent and with engaging characters and plenty of action. Two: It’s the first of a series, and the second one is already in print. The author, Claude Berube, knows his material. He’s taught history at the Naval Academy, where he heads the Naval Academy Museum (if you haven’t visited the museum, you should). He’s worked for the office of Naval Intelligence and on Capitol Hill, and he has deployed to the Persian Gulf as an officer in the Navy Reserve. He also has a good imagination, and he’s a fine writer. And the book has something else that lifts it above most other thrillers: thoughtful questions about right and wrong, justice and legality, and when breaking or at least bending the rules might be the most patriotic and moral course of action. For all its action and intrigue, this is a book with depth.” —Briar Patch Books

“[Berube] provides exciting, plausible action—enough to make you hold your breath and squeeze the pages until they’re wet with perspiration.” —Publishers Weekly

“Over the course of twenty-two days, Berube takes readers on a cyclonic rollercoaster ride with hair-raising serpentine twists and turns that will make the reader’s skin crawl at the all-too-real possibility of an international conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of government. His experience working in the Office of Naval Intelligence and being deployed to the Persian Gulf shine through, while his masterful storytelling takes you to distant shores and places you right in the midst of riveting action. The Aden Effect is a compelling and disturbing thriller that readers will long remember.” — Pirates and Privateers

"…this is not just a book for those who like military fiction; plot and characters are WELL-EXECUTED in The Aden Effect, making this an ENGAGING THRILLER for any reader.” — Mystery Scene Magazine

“Berube’s first thriller utilizes knowledge gained from working for the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the result is an exciting read. C. J. Sumner is the U.S. ambassador to Yemen. Needing help dealing with pirates off the coast and negotiating access to oilfields, C. J. recruits Connor Stark, a former naval officer turned mercenary, who reluctantly accepts the job. Meanwhile, security agent Damien Golzari, investigating the death of a diplomat’s son, turns up in Yemen, where he and Stark soon realize they are going to have to work together. The trail they follow leads right to the heart of the U.S. government. Berube keeps the heavy technical terms to a minimum, letting the engaging characters and intriguing, multifaceted story shine. Military-fiction readers will find much to enjoy here. Naval Institute Press has launched the careers of both Tom Clancy and Stephen Coonts, and they may have found another jewel in Berube.” — Booklist

"The book takes you by the lapels and yanks you in. The story is fast-paced and moves smoothly from Scotland to Maine to the Gulf of Aden, with a bucketful of murders and reprisals in every location. The bad guys get their comeuppance, usually with quick, clean kills. And both Stark and his more thoroughly civilized colleague, security officer Damien Golzari, are believable characters who play off each other effectively, adding character depth and good humor. If modern-day high-seas adventure is your cup of tea, just add a thick twist of suspended disbelief and sip away." — The Washington Independent Review of Books

“…An exciting contemporary thriller with many of today’s common naval challenges…a fun read. It’s edge of your seat suspense that leads from terrorist attacks ashore, to life at sea, to true to life maritime security operations, all of which are colored with an occasional glimpse of an author who has obviously been there.” — Rotor Review

“Claude Berube has given us the toughest, brainiest and most interesting new hero since Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. The Aden Effect is the thinking man’s military thriller.” — Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of Gates of Fire and The Afghan Campaign

“Claude Berube brings to The Aden Effect a deep and profound knowledge of all things naval and maritime, based on years of experience in the military. The reader is in good hands with him. He has not merely researched this subject, he’s lived and taught it. —Robert D. Kaplan, bestselling author of Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Naval Power and The Revenge of Geography

"Pirates, terrorists, high politics and low deals, Claude Berube deftly weaves them together drawing the reader into the violent and the unpredictable realities of the African Horn. The Aden Effect will keep you on the edge of your seat as it takes you to the edge of the modern world." —Dr. Martin N. Murphy, author of Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money: Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World and Somalia: The New Barbary? Piracy and Islam in the Horn of Africa

“Claude Berube has met spies, sailors, SEALs, soldiers of fortune, mercenaries, ambassadors and pirate-hunting naval officers in the Horn of Africa and around the world; that depth of personal knowledge comes through in this riveting tale that will keep you up nights, eagerly turning pages.” —Richard Miniter, bestselling author of Losing Bin Laden, Shadow War and Leading From Behind

Product Details

Naval Institute Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Claude Berue has taught at the United States Naval Academy, worked at the Office of Naval Intelligence and the U.S. Senate, and as an officer in the Navy Reserve deployed overseas. He has been a fellow with both the Brookings Institution and Heritage Foundation. He is the author of three non-fiction books and The Aden Effect, the first book in the Conner Stark series. Online at claudeberube.com

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