[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own]
Kirov by John Schettler is the Philadelphia Experiment in reverse. It is the tale of a Russian cruiser that through some anomaly that is never fully explains finds itself catapulted eighty years backwards in time from 2021 to 1941 to just weeks prior to the meeting of Roosevelt and Churchill at Argentia Bay in Newfoundland. The cruiser in the novel is the resurrected, upograde, and fully modernized guided missile cruiser Kirov that currently exists in the Russian Navy today. Of course the cruiser used in the book is a fictionalized version but realistic. A very good aspect was the use of historical figures and the convincing way they are portrayed. I am not normally someone that likes historical fiction, you could even say that I despise it as a genre but Mr. Schettler does a good job of making the reader forget he is writing historical fiction.
I very much enjoyed reading this book. The plot is fantastic enough to be Sci-Fi but realistic enough to be good fiction and my favorite, there is plenty of well researched and portrayed action. The action scenes in the book are very well written and it is some of the best naval combat fiction I have read. I would compare the quality of naval combat portrayal with that of David Weber in the Honor Harrington books. Fantastic, but gripping enough to keep you reading. The plot moves smoothly along for the most part and I was not tempted to put it down until it was finished. I could wish there was more of an epilogue but the one that is there leaves plenty of room for the readers imagination while setting a stage for that imagination.
I have only one complaint about the book and it may be minor and is definitely a personal quirk of mine. When the main characters are introduced he tends to be fairly long-winded (or penned?) when describing the character’s history and motivations. It is almost as if each main characters ends up an excursion from the main plot instead of these elements being interwoven into the narrative.
Overall, I have to say I enjoyed this book immensely. There is plenty of action along with plenty of introspection on motives and human nature. I also have to say that I don’t understand why one of the bigger publishing houses hasn’t picked up this book or others by Mr. Schettler. It is currently published by The Writing Shop Press and as is all too often true in the world of publishing, great books get overlooked because the big publishers can’t or won’t pick them all up. I would probably never have found this work had the author not contacted me directly asking if I would be willing to read one of his books and review it on my site. I am glad he did, Kirov is an excellent work and fans of authors, such as David Drake, David Weber, Eric Flint, Tom Kratman, and John Ringo can confidently add John Schettler to the roster of authors putting out excellent military Sci-Fi.