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The Devil's Waters (A USAF Pararescue Thriller) [Kindle Edition]

David L. Robbins
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (249 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A giant freighter in the Gulf of Aden holds secret cargo that could bring down the governments of four nations. When Somali pirates grab the ship, the order comes down: get the freighter back, at all costs.

Only one combat group is close enough to respond before the hijacked freighter reaches Somali waters: the elite US Air Force pararescue unit—the PJs—stationed in Djibouti. Though their mission is to save lives, and their oath is “That Others May Live,” the PJs are battle-tested. The team doesn’t hesitate because one of their own, Sgt. LB DiNardo, is already onboard the hijacked ship.

LB has three tasks: provide intel on the pirates, stay alive until the team arrives, and withstand the humiliation of breaking the PJs’ cardinal rule: Never be the one who needs rescuing.

At the head of the pirates is the shrewd and ruthless Yusuf Raage, a clan leader who will sacrifice anything and anyone to keep his captured ship. The PJs have a mere hour to take down the ship before the Air Force blows it up. Even if they survive the wrath of Yusuf Raage, more secrets and danger await them.

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Editorial Reviews


"The Devil’s Waters is a gripping thriller marked by explosive close-quarters action, authoritative depictions of an elite Air Force pararescue unit, and ingenious plot twists. Robbins is a masterful storyteller."- Dan Mayland author of the bestselling The Colonel's Mistake

"A great novel entertains and educates. The Devil's Waters does both, brilliantly. Robbins has the mind of a scholar, his eye for historical and cultural detail is simply extraordinary. Military jargon rips across the pages with authenticity and spontaneity. Nothing is forced; all is real. America's finest and their foreign enemies are not stick figures, but full bodied men with all the passions and foibles of real people. Many books have been written about the remarkable courage and daring of America's Special Forces. None have depicted the Air Force's PJs, its elite unit of pararescueers, in such detail or captured their quiet courage and selfless devotion to duty like this remarkable novel." -William S. Cohen, former U.S. Secretary of Defense

"On target! The Devils Waters impacts the reader right from the start mixing the realities of today’s combat with fast-paced fiction. Robbins' ability to deploy you with a team of pararescuemen into a plausible yet extreme scenario is unmatched. Nobody builds complicated characters and situations better than him, and who could be more complicated than American Special Operatives with the mission not to destroy or kill, but to save lives and aid the injured? Fire for effect, Robbins, and keep 'em coming." -Lt. Col. John McElroy, USAF Combat Rescue Officer

“Using the ticking clock and life-and-death stakes, Robbins keeps the tension high throughout. Amid the action, he provides descriptions that border on poetry…. Readers of The Devil’s Waters will lift off on the thrill ride they expect of this genre. But they will also get nuanced storytelling, and they will learn about a corner of the U.S. military not often portrayed in fiction.” -Tom Young for the Washington Independent Review of Books

Praise for David Robbins:

"Compelling debut.... That Robbins can write as gauzily as an angel is perfectly clear." -Kirkus Review

"Brilliant storytelling by an author who continues to grow and impress, and who, here, seems in complete control of his material." -Kirkus Review (starred review)

"Intricately plotted, insightful and deeply affecting...With empathy and beautiful prose, Robbins succeeds at evoking the vagaries and triumphs of the human heart." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Robbins has crafted an epic and compelling story... He has also successfully put very human faces on the soldiers, pilots, partisans, and tankers who are the protagonists. This superb historical novel is strongly recommended." -Library Journal (starred review)

"Robbins has an uncanny ability to provide just the right amount of historical detail without overwhelming the plot. This talent, coupled with superior characterization and a masterful, direct writing style will provide thriller lovers with one of their best reads of the year. The powerful climax deserves the term "heart-stopping." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

About the Author

David L. Robbins currently teaches advanced creative writing at VCU Honors College. His exceptional talent is displayed through ten action-packed novels, including the classic War of the Rats, Broken Jewel, The Betrayal Game, The Assassins Gallery, and Scorched Earth. An award-winning essayist and screenwriter, Robbins founded the James River Writers, an organization dedicated to supporting professional and aspiring writers. He also co- founded the Podium Foundation, which encourages artistic expression in Richmond’s high schools. Robbins extends his creative scope beyond fiction as an accomplished guitarist and student of jazz, pop, and Latin classical music. When he’s not writing, he’s often found sailing, shooting, weightlifting, and traveling the world. He lives in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia.

Product Details

  • File Size: 592 KB
  • Print Length: 409 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1612186068
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (November 13, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008J2KTVQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,420 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That Others May Live November 1, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I personally have one bias concerning books like this. I grew up in the military and if you count that along with my adult career, I have spent 58 years at various bases around the world - air force, navy and army. I have a huge appreciation for what the military does and an annoyance that civilians do not know the full extent of the service and hardships of these men and women and their families; although it has been much improved in the last few years.
So with that... I look at books like `the Devil's Waters' as serving a purpose more than entertainment - they help to educate. I am always happy to see a glossary of acronyms included,(for the civilian population) although it would be better in the front of the book.

The storyline concerns a ship carrying a mysterious cargo, hijacked by Somali pirates. This also gives some revelations about the world of these pirates. One excellent factor regarding the plot, is that it concerns a different type of weapon, an unusual secret and unique political dealings than in most other novels of this type and of course a military unit that most have no idea that it exists.
At times the pace is slow, especially for a military action style book. It takes 70 pages to get from the time of take off of a rescue unit to the landing zone - a 2 ½ hour flight. Then over a 100 pages are written regarding the fight to capture the ship, a 60 minute time period. Some of the structuring of the chapters can be confusing too. For example, chapter 47 ends, then 48 picks up at the end of chapter 46, so you have one scene completed and then the storyline returns to the beginning of the scene before.

The plot ends with an excellent explanation of why the government has given the orders it did and why the team was sent out on this mission.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two thumbs up from a former PJ January 7, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was a PJ for thirteen years, and I enjoyed this book as an action thriller. My one gripe is that the book shows very little of the life saving skills we worked so hard for. Can we kill? Yes, but anybody can take a life. There is nothing special or unique about ending a life. In Somalia and other places around the world children are programmed (for lack of a better word)to kill. Saving a life is a much more difficult task, and I'm not ashamed to say that we PJs are the best at saving lives in combat and many times during peace time. I hope Mr. Robbins uses his next book as an opportunity to incorporate a PJs life saving skills and the lengths to which we will go to save a life. PJs have parachuted into the middle of a mine field to get another brother in arms to hospital knowing his chances were very slim due to blood loss. This is just one example of thousands of missions PJs endure. Please don't just talk about the bravery and killing skills, but the ingenuity of their rescuing skills. Who HALO jumps with "the jaws of life" strapped to their backs? PJs do, that's who.
I still really enjoyed this book, and hope civilians get a tiny glimpse of PJs do. Let the SEALS get the glory and count news paper articles. We count lives saved.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Predictable Action Thriller December 18, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Gulf of Aden is filled with action and intrigue when a member of a team of pararescue jumpers finds himself in hot water.

The PJs, also known as the Guardian Angels, know there's no such thing as a milk run, but they still let their guard down when they get a distress call from a container ship. There's been an accident, and two crewmen on the ship sustained serious injury. Even though PJs don't work alone, Sergeant LB DiNardo decides to stay alone on the ship when he sees just how bad their injuries are. Shortly thereafter, the ship is attacked and taken by pirates.

Yusuf Raage became a pirate by default, but the business has been good to him. He's ready to retire, but when an Arab sheik makes him an offer he can't refuse, he gets a band together to take one more ship. He and his brother-in-arms, Suleiman, have misgivings, but they're afraid for the safety of their village, so they attack the ship anyway.

The ship is carrying super-secret cargo that absolutely cannot fall into the wrong hands, and the United States is determined to either take the ship back, or sink it in deep water far from prying eyes. They send a small team of PJs to retake it and keep the cargo secret, and they've got a tight timeline. If they fail, they'll be blown up with the ship.

This book wins major points for showing the points of view of both the pirates and the American rescuers. The action scenes were very well written, evocative and filled with detail. The biggest issue I had with this book was predictability. Everything that happened was heralded by an explanation first, so there was no page-turning suspense. Either the bad or good guys would announce what they needed to do, and the next few chapters would consist of them following through with it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nonstop Action From Start to Finish July 14, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I love military fiction because it reminds me of many happy memories from when I served. However, with this book, I had absolutely no frame of reference because the Pararescue isn't about missions where you may have to kill people. It is about missions where you save people. This is the cream of the cream.

In this novel, this Pararescue team gets to do both. It starts in Afghanistan where we meet the main characters. Fast forward to a mission where LB, the main character lands on a Russian freighter to assist some injured members of the crew. Then the ship is hijacked by Somali pirates, and it's up to LB to save the crew.

I liked everything about this book. It has great characters. These are service members committed to what they do, and they love saving people. It almost seems as if they are there for redemption. LB is a former Ranger, so compare that to what Pararescue does and you'll see what I mean.

The plot is fast paced, and the author handles the pacing really well. The action hardly slows down at all, usually just enough to allow you to catch your breath for a brief second, and then you're at it again.

Even better is the storyline. Prior to reading this book I just thought of Somali pirates as scum. You get a look at them from a more human perspective, and although they are clearly bad guys, and you always see them as bad guys, you do get some sense of why they do what they do, and you almost feel sympathetic.

Not to be outdone, LB is the hero of this story, and like many I have known like him, he's the real thing: a man of conviction, especially loyalty, and he does what he does because it's right and no other reason. In the end, it is about loyalty to your brothers and doing your job to the best of your ability.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read
This book is well written and very entertaining. I am hoping the author will make this the first is a series about this heroic USAF group.
Published 5 days ago by Sandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Devils Waters
This is an excellent book which I which would develop into a recurring character. A very good read well worth your time.
Published 9 days ago by M.H. Owens
5.0 out of 5 stars I Could not put this book down.
It was so well written and made me feel like I was right there in all the intrigue. Every American should read this book.
Published 11 days ago by Juanita Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't expect it to be this good.
I'm really hoping that there will be follow up books to this one. David L. Robbins has written an excellent story about the lesser known elite units. Read more
Published 12 days ago by rnsnake
4.0 out of 5 stars entertaining military thriller
kept me well entertained on a couple long flights. the main characters were mostly believable and relatable, while the military and political details provided enough heft without... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Paolo Malabuyo
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a fun surprise.
The characters were introduced in action before the main plot started. Then they evolved during an exciting page turner that was hard to put down. Read more
Published 19 days ago by R. Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story couldn't stop reading
very good read well written worth it to me just couldn't wait to see was going to happen next in the story
Published 29 days ago by David Frost
4.0 out of 5 stars Good til the end
I enjoyed the story a lot but found the final clash between the pirate and the hero a little far fetched considering the ship was sinking so quickly..
Published 1 month ago by Ben Dover
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, believable characters
The author tells us in the acknowledgements that several of the characters were based on real people and it is easy to discern this while reading this story. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stephen Tate Minnick
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
The first third of the story was filled with acronyms. They are in the glossary, but that is difficult to access with the Kindle. A lot of action. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Walt
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More About the Author

David L. Robbins was born in Richmond, Virginia, on March 10, 1954. He grew up in Sandston, a small town east of Richmond out by the airport. His father was among the first to sit behind the new radar screens in the air traffic control tower. Both his parents, Sam and Carol, were veterans of WWII. Sam saw action in the Pacific, especially at Pearl Harbor.

In 1976, David graduated from the College of William & Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia, with a B.A. in Theater and Speech. He didn't know what to do for a living, having little real theatrical talents, so he decided to attend what he calls the "great catch-basin of unfocused over-achievers": law school. He received his Juris Doctorate at William and Mary in 1980. Robbins practiced environmental law in Columbia, S.C. for a year to the day (his father demanded back the money for law school if David practiced less than one year - he quit two weeks before the anniversary but got Sam to agree that two weeks of accumulated vacation could be included) before turning his energy to a career as a freelance writer in 1981. He began writing fiction in 1990.

Robbins has published ten novels: Souls To Keep, a cosmic love story (published by HarperCollins in 1998); War Of The Rats, set during the battle of Stalingrad (published by Bantam in 1999; the basis for the movie Enemy At The Gates); The End of War, about the fall of Berlin at the end of WWII (Bantam in 2000); Scorched Earth, placed in the American South, about a church burning and contemporary racism (Bantam, 2002); Last Citadel, set during the great tank battle of Kursk on the Eastern Front of WWII (Bantam, 2003), Liberation Road, a tale of the battle for France in WWII told through the perspectives of two minorities in the U.S. Army, a black truck driver and a rabbi chaplain (Bantam, 2005) The Assassins Gallery, (Bantam, 2006,) an alternate history political thriller supposing the assassination of FDR in 1945, and The Betrayal Game, a sequel to The Assassins Gallery revolving around the events of the Bay Of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 and the CIA's many attempts to kill Fidel Castro. His latest novel, Broken Jewel (Simon & Schuster, 2009) is set in the Philippines in early 1945, at the Los Baños internment camp. The novel involves the rescue of 2100 Americans before their execution by the Japanese, and the story of a Filipina "comfort woman." Broken Jewel was described by Kirkus (starred review) as "...a remarkable story, brilliantly told." His tenth novel, from Thomas & Mercer, is The Devil's Waters, an adventure of the US Air Force pararescuemen who recapture a top-secret freighter hijacked by Somali pirates.

The audio version of War Of The Rats was nominated for an Audie, as one of the top three unabridged novels of 2000. Likewise, the audio of Last Citadel was named one of Library Journal's top 3 recordings of 2005. His books have appeared on the NY Times Bestseller list, and been published in sixteen languages. For his wartime novels, David has been referred to by Kirkus as "the Homer of World War II."

Robbins resides in Richmond, Virginia. He is an accomplished guitarist, playing blues for years, but now he studies Latin classical. At six feet six inches tall, he stays active with his sailboat, shooting sporting clays, weightlifting, and traveling to research his novels. He is the founder of the James River Writers, a non-profit organization in his hometown of Richmond that helps aspiring writers and students work and learn together as a writing community. He has taught at Virginia Commonwealth, and as writer-in-residence at his alma mater, the College of William and Mary. Currently, he teaches advanced creative writing at the Honors College of VCU. Robbins is the co-founder of the non-profit Podium Foundation, an organization which has created a literary journal, arts website, and several literacy programs for Richmond Public High School students ( His website address is

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