In, The Commander, we meet Commander Jacob Edwards just as he is promoted to being the youngest Commander in the U.S. Coast Guard and given command of the refurbished Coast Guard Hamilton Class Cutter, First Responder. Jacob, his wife and nine-year-old daughter are required to move to where the cutter is based but thankfully that is the same place as his wife’s parents live, so Jacob will feel more comfortable about leaving them alone when he is off on patrol. As he takes command of First Responder, it becomes increasingly apparent, to the Coast Guard, that something big is brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico. It seems that terrorists may be planning to sabotage one or more of the deep-sea oil rigs based in the Gulf, to try to strangle the U.S, supply of oil. Captain Tommy Williams (The Legend) is tasked, by the President, with finding out who is planning the terrorist attack and thwarting it. Tommy knows the best men for that job will be Commander Edwards and the rest of his top-secret military task-force that he is in charge of. So begins an epic showdown in the Gulf of Mexico between a desperate band of criminals and the might of the United States Coast Guard.
The characters Hendrickson has created in this series are fascinatingly overdrawn. At one end of the scale you have the evil mastermind of the criminal enterprise, Boris Rasmov, his family and criminal enterprise, while at the other end we have the dedicated, moral, and powerful leadership of Commander Edwards, his extended family, his crew, and his paramilitary team. What I liked particularly was those fringe characters who were at or near the top of the Coast Guard’s hierarchy but who were morally flawed and therefore able to be manipulated and indeed subverted by the evil Rasmov.
As with all of Hendrickson’s books the action is fast and furious and the author’s research, to this lay-reader, anyway, appears impeccable. The author knows his onions when it comes to the U.S. Coast Guard, its hierarchy, its weaponry and its procedures. Commander Jacob Edwards appeals partly because of his heroism and all-American ingenuity (Bondish or McGyverish in many ways) but what makes him so likeable and identifiable as a real person, is his willing acceptance of other’s ideas and talents. He will always listen to ideas from anyone, and give them credit for them, no matter what their rank. Yes, he’s a lead-by-example hero but he’s more than that. He has a genuine care and concern for his fellow “Guardies” and also for humanity in general. There is a lot to like about Commander Jacob Edwards.
As a reviewer who has reveled in and enjoyed watching Hendrickson’s growth as an author over the past couple of years, I can definitely proclaim The Commander: Last Enemy Series Prequel as the crowning jewel of a superb action/adventure Coast Guard series. Dan E. Hendrickson has arrived, in my opinion, and I am eager to see where his fertile imagination will take him next on his literary journey. I can highly recommend this book and the entire series. It was a truly enjoyable and satisfying read.