Rating: 5 out of 5
Operation: North Sea is the latest “S-Squad” book from William Meikle. This is a series with plenty of military-vs-monsters fun with a touch of horror (occasionally a hint at cosmic horror), and a touch of adventure. In this volume, the lads get to deal with a kaiju! In particular, a giant sea monster. When it attacks an oil rig, Captain John Banks, Sergeant Hynds, Corporal Wiggins (Wiggo), and privates Wilkins and Davies are sent to investigate. They meet up with our old friend Alexander Seton, who helped out when the lads went up against the Loch Ness monster, and who has an interest in old magics. He thinks he might have a way to deal with this new sea monster, but it’s so wacky no one wants to give him the chance. Everyone would rather shoot at or blow up the thing, even though Seton believes neither will make a difference.
This wouldn’t be the best intro to the series if you haven’t read it before. Most of it would make sense to a new reader, but certain parts of the ending might seem mildly anticlimactic if you don’t have the background on them.
Wiggo is starting to have to take charge of some situations now that he’s been promoted, and he’s still working out how to do that. Davies and Wilkins are relegated to the background in this book, and there isn’t much seen of Hynd, but Banks is right in the thick of things. The focus is definitely on the monsters and other dangers, but we do get to have slivers of growth for the characters. I think it’s an excellent balance. There are also a couple of local characters that give the story some added color.
As a note, many authors, when trying to impart a particular accent in a book, do it by spelling words oddly phonetically, which backfires. The reader spends so much time trying to puzzle out every word, and it slows the story down horribly. Meikle is perfect in this regard. He just writes what the characters say, and, probably because he’s actually from Scotland, he doesn’t jazz it up at all. The differences lie in the words that are used and how they’re put together. It’s enough to totally put the voices into your head, and it doesn’t slow down the reading at all.
There’s plenty of action, lots of tension, some excellent characters, and a monster that leaves us with a few unanswered questions. I loved this installment in the series, and I can’t wait to read the next.
“And yon big beastie that ate the supply boat? What are you doing about that?”
“Fuck all,” Wiggo said cheerfully. “What do you expect me to do, give it a biscuit?”