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Launch Code - Michael Ridpath

Launch Code is a stand-alone thriller, which will be published in the UK in November 2019. I am not yet sure about US publication.

November 1983, three hundred feet beneath the Atlantic: US submarine Lieutenant Bill Guth and his fellow officers suddenly receive the order they've long-prepared for. To launch their nuclear missiles in a retaliatory strike against the USSR. But in the unexpected chaos that follows, the argument over whether to obey the order leaves one person dead...
Norfolk, England, November 2019: Bill is celebrating Thanksgiving with his four daughters and his English son-in-law when they are interrupted by a historian who turns up unannounced to ask about a near-apocalyptic incident back in 1983. And the death that prevented it. Bill smiles but does not respond – the details are classified – and the historian leaves, unenlightened. That night, the historian is brutally murdered in the local pub.

Bill and his family are all thrown into suspicion. What happened all those years ago? Just how much is Bill to blame for events in the past, and indeed the present? The shades of history reveal themselves, and Bill's family disintegrates as they realize they do not know whom they can trust.

The idea for this novel came after I read an account of a near-launch of nuclear missiles from Okinawa in 1962. I did some research and found more examples of the system telling humans to launch missiles, and humans deciding not to do it – usually ignoring procedure. Read more about this here.