Havana File by Dale A. Dye


Dale Dye, best known as the guy who re-invented military technical advising in Hollywood when he worked his magic in the movie Platoon in the mid eighties, is a retired Marine Corps captain. He served in Vietnam in 1965 and in 1967-70 and survived thirty-one combat operations.

Dye, who also has acted in many films and has written a slew of novels (including Laos File, Run Between the Raindrops, and the novelization of Platoon) is a superb story teller who gets his details and language right. Havana File (Warriors Publishing Group, 306 pp., $14.95, paper; $7.99, Kindle), the sixth book in his Shake Davis series, is a military thriller told mostly in short, snappy chapters. It moves right along from the first page. When you pick up a Dale Dye book, you know it will be professional, well-written, and a page-turner.

I will emulate Dye’s style and not say too much about the story right off the bat. I was thrilled to encounter Marine Cpl. Gus Hasford in this book, but saddened when he was killed. I like how Dye uses the names of people from his time in the Marine Corps as characters’ names and how this gives the dead ones immortality of a sort.

The book is about a team of Marine raiders that lands on Fidel Castro’s private Cuban island and rescue a missing American intelligence agent. It contains a fair amount of what I’d call ranting, including how ill it was to have normalized relations with Castro’s Cuba.


Dale Dye

President Obama, who is not named, is described as the “guy in the White House who’s looking to justify his Nobel Peace Prize even if it destroys the country he’s sworn to preserve.”

John Wayne is mentioned. So are Jack Reacher and Jimmy Buffet. The Vietnam War appears as a scene that takes place in 1968 at the Cua Viet River in I Corps.

I know that many people who have read the first five books in Dye’s fine Shake Davis series, have been Jonesing for the sixth. Here it is. It stands up well to the expectations awakened by the first five.

I was happy with it and read it straight through. Thanks, Dale.

—David Willson




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


Rogue Warrior: Curse of the Infidel by Richard Marcinko and Jim DeFelice

“Richard Marcinko is a living, breathing hero,” we are told in the author’s note in Rogue Warrior: Curse of the Infidel (Forge, 368 pp., $26.99) by Marcinko and Jim DeFelice. Marcinko served in Vietnam and has received a Silver Star and four Bronze Stars. After the Vietnam War, he started and commanded SEAL Team 6, the Navy’s anti-terrorist group. He also started Red Cell International, another anti-terrorist unit whose fictionalized exploits are found in Marcinko’s Rogue Warrior novels, including this one.

There is enough action in this novel to fill at least six ordinary military action thrillers. Co-author DeFelice has written, ghost-written, and co-written many other novels in this genre. That includes collaborations with authors with famous names such as Stephen Coonts, Larry Bond, and Marcinko.

Throughout the book, the assumption is that the reader has read many other Rogue Warrior books, perhaps all of them. That assumption does not work for me as this is the only book in that series I have read.

This Rogue Warrior novel contains lots of derring-do, nifty electronic gizmos of all sorts, and an endless inventory of weapons, large and small, all of which are used in a long list of exotic countries reached by submarine, by jumping out of airplanes, and by just about every other possible method of border crossing. Djibouti and Somalia are just two of these perilous and well-described countries.

Richard Marcinko

There is a high body count. However, none of the principles who have appeared in the earlier novels—and who we expect will appear in future novels—are harmed in any serious life-threatening way. The worst is a flesh wound.

Our aging hero, Mr. Dick, is at the center of most of the exploits, valiantly testing his aging body, especially his creaky knees. His experience and his brain stand him in good stead and keep him going from chapter to chapter.

Those who love these tales of the Rogue Warrior and the wars against terror, drugs, and virtually all other threats to our way of life will enjoy this book. It’s well written, well edited, and it moves right along. There’s even an occasional reference to the Vietnam War.

The characters named Shotgun, Mongoose, Trace, and Junior are featured doing what they have done in the past and what they continue to do: provide some comic relief and constant, loyal support to the hero.

I was surprised and thrilled to find at the end of the book (I read this on my Kindle) extensive and well-written footnotes with information on weaponry and other technical devices, as well as the occasional witty comment.

As the critics say, this is tough, rip-roaring stuff. Nobody does it quite like Marcinko and whomever he taps to help with the project of getting a new book written.

The authors’ websites are www.dickmarcinko.com and www.jimdefelice.com

—David Willson