Pros: Enjoyable military vs monster tale!
Cons: One or two very minor details
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
William Meikle’s Operation: Siberia (S-Squad Book 3) is book three in his excellent military-vs-monsters series. In book one, Captain John Banks and his group of special ops soldiers dealt with giant carnivorous isopods from beneath the Arctic sea. In book two, he and his men encountered “Nazi ice zombies” and a demon-powered UFO (pro-tip: the “demon” is actually some sort of Lovecraftian beastie). This time around, Banks and his men are on a “cushy” (ha!) assignment to babysit three UN scientists as they investigate a wealthy Russian businessman’s private zoo. It seems Volkov has been resurrecting long-dead creatures such as dire wolves, mammoths, and cave lions, only he’s been pumping them full of growth hormones as well–making them huge and aggressive. He also has a back area that he seems eager to steer them away from, and all Banks’s men can suss out from their Russian counterparts is that they’re scared of whatever’s back there. When things inevitably go awry, the team has all they can do to try to keep their charges alive and kicking.
“There’s no creepy drifting boat, no empty Nazi UFO bases, none of that weird shite from the last couple of missions.”
One of the things I will continue loving about this series is that it has nothing to do with the US. I’m so used to military-themed horror being US-centric, and it’s very nice to have characters from the British military instead. I also love the characters. These books aren’t terribly long, so it isn’t like we’re going to go into essays on their childhoods, but with just a few deft strokes Meikle gives them plenty of dimension. Personally I love Wiggins’s constant jokes regarding Sergeant Hynd’s wife.
Meikle rides a deft line, keeping the creatures deadly without taking away the fact that most animals aren’t naturally murderous. I felt heartbroken for some of the animals at one point. And an unfortunate series of events that leads to one of the more tense sequences makes perfect sense, rather than leaving me yelling at the horror characters to stop being stupid. Speaking of which, I like that Banks is so careful about trying to keep the party together, along with avoiding some other typical ‘stupid horror character’ moves.
I fully intend to read the whole series, and I hope Meikle keeps putting them out!
“Fucking Jurassic Park. That’s all I need,” Wiggins said.