The Hydra Protocol by
David Wellington is a suspenseful, gripping novel. It is a
warning about the dangers of Russia, nuclear weapons, and
rogue intelligence officials. This exciting thriller brings
back memories of the Cold War era where annihilation was the
fear of many Americans. The tale has both modern day and future
computer technologies interwoven with Soviet atrocities and
From the very beginning of the book the action is intense.
A Russian intelligence agent, Nadia, informs America about
a secret project conceived during the 1980’s, HYDRA,
a forgotten Cold War supercomputer that controls hundreds
of nuclear missiles aimed at the US. Jim Chapel, a retired
Army Ranger, who now works for a secret US intelligence agency
is assigned to work with Nadia. Their mission is to prevent
nuclear annihilation by infiltrating a top secret Russian
military base and disable a supercomputer. Within the settings
traveled are the US, Cuba, Eastern Europe, and Russia.
Wellington commented, “Jim is my way of saying a thank
you to the troops. They have done an incredible job. These
people are not about entitlements but are extraordinarily
responsible. Jim is an emblem of how much I respect and admire
our soldiers. I gave him a prosthetic arm because I wanted
to show the sacrifices our soldiers make as well as the advancements
made on how they work.”
Unlike Wellington’s first novel, Chimera, this one
has no science fiction and can be classified solely as a thriller.
There are no super human beings and horror stories as with
his other novels. However, there are “horror”
scenes when his Russian interrogators torture Chapel after
he’s captured. The true nature of the Russians is displayed
by the author but is done in a thoughtful way without grossing
out the readers.
Another issue examined is how someone’s moral character
can change after experiencing a dark period in their life.
Chapel has moral lapses while on the mission, but thankfully
recovers and once again becomes a person to root for. It is
interesting how Wellington contrasts the American patriot,
Chapel, with the rogue Russian patriot, Nadia, in personality
and their intentions. Through the relationship scenes these
characters are humanized and make the plot more realistic.
Through Nadia’s eyes, readers are able to understand
how Russia is the master to the Soviet satellites who are
treated no better than slaves. Throughout history the Russians
have taken over territories for their own purpose. While doing
this they pollute them and endanger them with chemical, biological,
and nuclear threats.
The author noted, “Russia takes advantage of these
satellite states that cannot fight back. Look at what happened
at Chernobyl. There is now this area that is radioactive.
All life was killed and when scientists were sent there it
was so quiet it was surreal. The Russian government countered
this by putting up loudspeakers playing music. Another example,
Lake Baikal used to be larger and is greatly downsized because
of the chemical pollutants. There is also an Island nearby
where bioweapons were tested and now Russia abandoned it,
but never cleaned it up. Russia is creating and has created
environmental time bombs.”
The Hydra Protocol is a fast action thriller with
a lot of twists and turns. It is a reminder of the brutality
of the Russians, and a warning of how deadly nuclear weapons
can be, even obsolete ones. Anyone that wants to understand
the fears and terror that can be brought about by having nuclear
weapons fall under the wrong hands must read this book.