Stingray by Alan C. Thomas

Alan C. Thomas’s Stingray: The Russians are Listening (America Star, 274 pp., $27.95 paper; audible.com, $27.81 audio book) reads like a memoir, at least for the first quarter of the book. So I am grateful that we are informed by the author that “All characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is coincidental.”

Thomas is a former U. S. Navy Corpsman who served in Vietnam with detachments of the 3rd and 5th Marines, including on POW pilot rescue missions in 1970 in Quang Tri Province. His first book, Flashback: Vietnam Cover-Up: PTSD, dealt with veterans’ post-traumatic stress disorder.

Stingray is a complex tale of apparent paranoia, industrial espionage, duplicity, and international intrigue. It was difficult for me to make sense of it all. Is Rob Thomas, the main character in this novel, crazy, as he is constantly accused of being? Or is there a vast web of plots against him designed to discredit his accusations of wrongdoing at Mare Island Shipyard?

This thriller has Kafkaeseque complexities that made my head spin. For those who see conspiracy everywhere they look, Stingray may be for you.  It contains much pill taking, beer drinking, and cold pizza eating. Also the consumption of hot dogs and chili dogs. The fast food eating alone would have made me crazy.

The hero goes to California at the behest of an old friend to take a job at Mare Island Shipyard, and one crazy thing leads to another. Everywhere he looks he sees plots thickening. He ends up in the care of a psychiatrist who is later killed, along with his shipyard boss, in a suspicious car accident. The shrink is convinced that Rob Thomas is a “wacko.”  Hard to argue with that diagnosis.

Alan C. Thomas

Thomas leaves his wife in Florida when he decamps to California. She “wouldn’t follow along the path that I needed to take.”

That “path” refers to the fact that she had been repeatedly raped by her father when she was a kid, so she was not interested in marital sex.

Thomas calls his father and tells him that he has discovered that the streets of California are not paved with gold. That is typical of the phraseology used in this book.

If you enjoyed Thomas’ first book, this one is more of the same, and I predict you will enjoy it. Security leaks at Mare Island and possible KGB operatives infiltrating America—this book has plenty of that.

The author’s website is alanthomasbooks.com

—David Willson