Submerging readers in the octane-fueled action of America’s coastal military, Dagger Quest by Edward M. Hochsmann is a highly entertaining cross between a seafaring adventure and a high-stakes military drama.
When a suspected drug-running ship is found destroyed in Cuban waters, Ben Wyporek, the Executive Officer of a Coast Guard cutter, is plunged into an international quagmire of missiles, secrets, and organized crime. Though the nuclear premise is exciting enough, the more interesting tension of the novel comes from the richly penned cast, with their interpersonal struggles, romances, bruised egos, and conflicting philosophies of leadership. The relationship between Sam and Ben, CO and XO, is both paternal and fraternal, underpinning the strong themes of sacrifice, duty, and friendship that drive this novel forward.
At a time of wildly unstable geopolitics, this novel will hit home for contemporary readers. While some of the elements smack of pulp fiction drama, the authenticity of the prose and the detailed technical writing makes readers forget this isn’t a direct account of an international incident. Hochsmann also captures the pace, attitude, hierarchy, and seriousness of life on board a cutter, evidence of his own law enforcement experience in the Coast Guard.
Though some of the procedural elements slow down the flow, the dialogue is snappy and believable, while the narration keeps the suspense at a fever pitch to the very end.