Michael Ridpath > The Magnus Iceland Mysteries > Thrillers > Financial Thrillers >
Launch Code - Michael Ridpath

Launch Code is a stand-alone thriller, published in November 2019.

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.

What people have said about Launch Code

"The action among the Norfolk dunes is tense and atmospheric, but it's the flashbacks to 1983 that give this thriller its most scalp-tingling moments as Michael Ridpath dramatizes the fragility of nuclear deterrence with a fascinating ethical dilemma inspired by real-life incidents. An entertaining mix of techno-thriller, spy novel and domestic noir." - The Times

"Deadly state secrets and deadlier family secrets—perfectly crafted, scrupulously researched Launch Code  weaves an ingeniously dark and tangled web that will keep you gripped and guessing to the very end. Ridpath is one of the best thriller writers around." - CRAIG RUSSELL author of The Devil Aspect

"Ridpath is a singular writer and a brave one, because he takes his novels to so many different places, each immaculately researched." - Frances Fyfield, CWA Gold Dagger winner.

"Taut, gripping and relevant - the secret history of a narrowly-avoided nuclear Armageddon form the background to this classic thriller." - William Ryan, author of The Constant Soldier

"Hugely enjoyable and thought-provoking, Launch Code brings to mind the classic thrillers of Alistair Maclean and Jack Higgins. A well-crafted ingenious mystery, tightly plotted, compelling and contemporary, this could well be Michael Ridpath's best novel yet." - Stav Sherez author of The Intrusions

Buy the ebook now on Kindle