Treason Flight, a thriller by T. R. Matson opens with Owen discovering flying the Hawkeye can be every bit as exciting as flying a Hornet. He is over the Persian Gulf, flying a broken Hawkeye to USS Nimitz.
The aircraft has suffered multiple mechanical failures. “The Book” calls for him to bail out. Rattler wants to save the aircraft. It is expensive and operationally valuable. Nimitz has only four, and losing one during a potential war patrol will hurt capability. Rattler asks permission to make one try and gets it. He succeeds, saving the aircraft.
It is a fast-paced opening, and Treason Flight never slows down from there. “Rattler” is soon flying against Islamic terrorist groups, seizing Persian Gulf oil platforms. Despite outstanding flying performance during these missions (including saving another crippled Hawkeye), Rattler cannot seem to get on the good side of “Skipper,” who commands the air squadron aboard Nimitz. The better Rattler, does the unhappier Skipper gets. It is almost as if Skipper would have been happier if Jack had lost the aircraft.
As if getting hassled by the squadron commander is not enough, Owen is going through a divorce his spouse initiated. He will soon be single, trying to decide whether he should start a relationship with an Australian flight attendant he met on leave. Plus things keep going wrong on Nimitz. It is as if there is a saboteur aboard.
Treason Flight is more than another naval aviation thriller. The first thing setting it apart is Matson’s use of the Hawkeye as the central aircraft in the story. The Hawkeye is an unarmed, twin turboprop aircraft, used for airborne early warning. It is supposed to avoid combat, making it an unlikely star in a combat thriller.
Additionally, Matson makes the bad guys Islamic extremists. Today’s thrillers more frequently fall back on the woke choice of white nationalists. Matson even puts a few new twists into the Islamic terrorist theme, giving them unexpected allies.
The result is a refreshing and original story, with good guys to root for and villains to hiss. If you liked the aviation thrillers written in the 1990s and this century’s first decade, Treason Flight is for you.
“Treason Flight,” by T. R. Matson, Independently Published, 2021, 196 pages, $29.99 (hardcover), $14.99 (paperback), $7.99 (ebook)
*Mark Lardas is an engineer, freelance writer, historian and model-maker living in Texas. Mark posts on Ricochet as “Seawriter,” and is well-known for his regular and much appreciated reviews of books on all subjects. Of his reviews, he says “I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review.” His website is marklardas.com.