When I was in the 10th grade, a thousand years ago, Mr. Skolsky was my English teacher. Introducing a few of Shakespeare's tragedies, he would joke that all the characters the venerable bard didn't know what to do with by the end of the 4th Act, he would bring together in the 5th Act and bump them off. Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, and all the rest of them. Even poor Romeo and Julie. There's an element of that in the Stephen Coonts novels.
Liberty is great. Coonts takes aim at the blustery agencies and they in turn become 'the foolish player[s] who strut and fret their hour upon the stage.' And of course, the xenophobic terorists suffer the same fate at his pen.
The Russians, ever the evil empire, now have their own hero in Janos Ilin, who delivers the horrifying news to the almost John Wayne-like Jake Grafton that there are 4 nukes heading for the US. He exacts a favor from the ever level headed Admiral Grafton, and we are uncertain of it until the last 10 pages. Nice work, Steve, keeping those face cards close to the vest.
There are dozens of characters, good and bad, who populate the first 60 or 80 pages. There are so many characters that several hundred pages later, you have to go back to determine 'who was that guy?' There are assassins, bad guys turned good guys (see Zelda, computer criminal turned Joan d'Arc) and bad guys turned REALLY good guys (see Tommy Carmellini, again, a new hero of tremendous substance.)
The killings are somewat grisly so if that churns your stomach, beware. Heroes abound; love is good; fools are plentiful; and the bad guys suffer righteously ... in the 5th Act.
Stephen Coonts does a great job of bringing the reader up to date with his plot and characters, always well crafted and intricate. In the beginning there are almost too many but it all evens out.
Much more complicated than a beach read it remains overwhelmingly an excellent action novel.