The Aden Effect is Lt. Commander Claude Berube’s first fiction book—he has previously authored three non-fiction books. Berube has a background in Naval Intelligence and seems to have both first-hand experience and solid knowledge of the subject matter of this novel.
The key story in The Aden Effect revolves around relatively familiar themes: Piracy and oil in the Middle East, this time in the Gulf of Aden, the old seaport Aden, and Yemen. The pirates are growing stronger under a new, very smart and aggressive leader. As it turns out, this new leader has a larger goal than just making money as a pirate: he sees a bigger picture and wants a larger role in Yemeni society. And he is well-connected, not only domestically, but also via ties to the Chinese, who are expanding their international role, want a foothold in the region and are very interested in access to Yemen’s oil.
The Chinese, however, are not the only players interested in what is going on. Even though the US may not be as powerful as it once was in the region, the new Ambassador to Yemen, C.J. Sumner, has been assigned to negotiate access to the oil fields off the island of Socotra and enlist help countering pirates who are capturing ships at will off the Horn of Africa. The US Navy has a limited but still powerful presence in the area.
Ambassador Sumner’s mission turns out to be much more difficult than she anticipated. So she turns to an old acquaintance with the skills and connections needed in Yemen: She recruits Connor Stark, a former naval Commander turned mercenary, a man who knows the region well, as defense attaché. However, she may have underestimated her enemies. Things soon go from bad to far worse. Somebody wants Conner Stark dead and seeks to get rid of him even before he goes to Yemen. And so after he has arrived, the situation escalates further.
Claude Berube (see picture) has written a tough navy thriller with a relatively interesting plot and not only one, but two very interesting heroes. When I say relatively interesting instead of very interesting, this is because Berube falls into the somewhat familiar American «I don’t trust politicians»-trap and creates the typical, not so plausible and boring government conspiracy plot twist, where the good guys not only have to fight pirates, resourceful Chinese, incompetent leaders (isn’t this more than enough?), but also – of course – are continually stabbed in the back by a some very highly-placed politicians who play ball with the Chinese. Oh well. Apart from that, this is an interesting book, even to some extent a stimulating read with some good dialogue, interesting main characters and fast-paced action.
The Aden Effect is a great debut – well written with well-drawn characters, interesting and likeable heroes, and quite suspenseful. You will have to read the book to find out who the other heroes are. I will only say this: I think it is very likely that you will find both Connor Stark and the other hero intriguing and interesting, and that you will want to meet them again in the next novel in this new series!
I enjoyed reading The Aden Effect and recommend it; it’s an interesting and entertaining read.
Praise for The Aden Effect:
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