By REGINA M. ANGELI
David Wellington has another exciting mission for war veteran Jim Chapel in "The Hydra Protocol." (William Morrow/430 pages)
The premise of this work is terrifying; that in the old days of the Cold War the Soviet Union had an automated computer system which controlled their nuclear arsenal aimed at the United States.
Even with the fall of the Soviet regime and Russia's tentative move towards democracy, this automated weapon system, dubbed "Perimeter" had not dismantled.
The Pentagon's Rupert Hollingshead sends his ace special forces operative Jim Chapel to retrieve the codes for this system from a sunken Soviet submarine Kurchatov which sank in 1991 during the chaotic fall of the Kremlin.
Chapel joins forces with a Siberian agent, Nadia Asimova, and a Romanian
computer hacker named Bogdan. They must go to the remote Kazakhstan to disable this arsenal.
The perilous mission is further complicated by that fact that Chapel has enlisted the assistance of a woman whose motives threaten the entire world.
The idea that the Soviets had a supercomputer controlling their vast nuclear weapons is frightening enough. Although communism has fallen, the current Russian regime, with a bellicosity that harkens back to the Cold War days, and the fact that today's cell phones can handle the programming that used to take a supercomputer back in the 1980s, makes one ask whether or not the world is any safer from nuclear annihilation?