When the Tamil Sea Tigers, the ferocious naval wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was destroyed in the Sri Lankan government’s full-throttled spring 2009 offensive that put an end to the country’s decades-long civil war, few were sorry to see its demise. For while the group was a capable adversary of Sri Lanka’s navy, reportedly sinking dozens of Sri Lankan patrol boats, it was also accused of human rights abuses, including incidents of piracy and the murder of non-combatants. In Syren’s Song, the second novel by Claude Berube, the Sea Tigers are resurrected — plausible given the unresolved grievances of Sri Lanka’s Tamils that fueled the war — and they come bearing fearsome new capabilities. If you are a fan of techno-military thrillers and disappointed with the seven pairs of socks you received for Christmas, this quick-paced and enjoyable novel is for you.
This sequel to 2012’s The Aden Effect also brings back to life most characters from the precursor. Some, like Diplomatic Security Service agent Damien Golzari and hero Connor Stark, are welcome returns in Berube’s continuing exploration of the role of private maritime security companies (PMSCs) in the modern world. Other characters were perhaps best left for dead, such as the one-dimensional caricature of an overweening admiral, who seems to function primarily as a cartoonish vehicle for what I suspect are Berube’s views on the much-maligned Littoral Combat Ships(LCS) in the U.S Navy.
Although Syren’s Song primarily works to tell an engaging story — and here, it succeeds despite some minor distractions — it also raises interesting questions about the nature of strategic surprise, anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) weapons, experimentation in the Navy, sea-basing, and of course PMSCs.
Read the Remainder at War on the Rocks