Robert Williscroft is the author of a gripping historical fiction novel called Operation Ivy Bells. He served twenty-three years in the U.S. Navy, earned a PhD in engineering from California Coast University, and served a one-year tour in the South Pole and another three years in the Arctic. After his impressive military career (which served as the inspiration for his works), Williscroft decided to focus on writing, much to this reader’s delight.
Operation Ivy Bells is a fictional account of the actual historical event in which the U.S. Navy attempted to tap into the Soviet Union’s undersea communication cable during the Cold War. Narrated by Lieutenant J. R. McDowell (“Mac”), the novel recounts Mac’s adventures aboard the submarine USS Halibut as he completes the mission to place taps on the Soviet’s undersea communication lines. Such adventures include mechanical failures, mishaps caused by human error, attacks by sea creatures, scuffles with enemy Russian divers, attempts to paralyze enemy warships, and others. Williscroft injects moments of humor in the novel (specifically, some accounts of good-natured hazing and a scene with a hilarious prostitute named Snorkel Patty). There is never a dull moment in Operation Ivy Bells. The ending is completely satisfying, and towards the end of the mission, Mac begins a lifelong friendship with a very unexpected person.
I am glad that Williscroft provided a glossary of military terms so that we “civilian pukes” can better understand what is happening. Admittedly, the novel is borderline esoteric, but Williscroft makes it easy to read by taking the time to explain things as he goes. My favorite part of the novel is the camaraderie among the member of the team. They watch each others’ backs and are highly supportive of each other (without refraining from manly banter).The funniest part of the novel is when one of the divers is caught in the jaws of a superfish (and left with non-fatal injuries).
Each chapter begins with an illustration that gives a hint as to what the chapter will be about. i liked this idea so much that I may incorporate it into my future novels.
Operation Ivy Bells is an edge-of-your-seat war novel with characters that you just can’t help but love, and just the right amount of suspense at each turn. As Ed Offley (who wrote the foreword) said, “You won’t be able to put this down.”
To read Operation Ivy Bells: http://www.amazon.com/Operation-Ivy-Bells-novel-Cold-ebook/dp/B00NAGDWL0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1417490265&sr=1-1&keywords=operation+ivy+bells