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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Intruder goes to the Beltway
We thought Captain Jake Grafton died at the end of "Final Flight" when he deliberately flew his F-14 into a cargo plane carrying stolen nukes. We were wrong - as the first few pages of "Minotaur" make clear. The Minotaur is the codename for a Russian spy blamed for leaking sensitive military secrets to the Russians. Many think the spy a myth, but...
Published on March 20, 2001 by Rottenberg's rotten book review

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overly long and pedantic
I guess I must dare to be different. Unlike everyone else who raves about this book, I found it boring the few times I have read it.

Stephen Coonts is a good author. His book "Flight of the Intruder" may be considered a classic novel of Vietnam; it was even made into a movie. The protaganist in that book, Jake Grafton, became a recurring figure in a series of...
Published on March 8, 2012 by crystalattice


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Intruder goes to the Beltway, March 20, 2001
We thought Captain Jake Grafton died at the end of "Final Flight" when he deliberately flew his F-14 into a cargo plane carrying stolen nukes. We were wrong - as the first few pages of "Minotaur" make clear. The Minotaur is the codename for a Russian spy blamed for leaking sensitive military secrets to the Russians. Many think the spy a myth, but Jake Grafton - now permanently grounded and assigned a desk in the Pentagon - has to consider the mole real enough. Given control over the Navy's new stealth bomber program, Grafton confronts mysterious accidents and the mysterious death of his predecessor. He must also confront the program's more mundane obstacles - like the fact that it's impossible to design a truly effective stealth plane, and that the most promising design will be edged by the more politically attractive one. While most writers would wax eloquently on the virtues of their techno toys, Coonts looks at the advanced technology aircraft in his book dispassionately. Stealth aircraft, Coonts warns us, are underarmed, not very maneuverable, and very short-ranged. The USAF's stealth fighter, for its whiz-bangs, is essentially a Navy A-7 that (for the moment) can evade any radar in the world and drop a total of two bombs, both being the sort of high-tech toys that never work. (This book came out before Desert Storm). Combining the rigors of the program with an espionage story is pretty daring, and Coonts tries some nifty tricks. Unfortunately, though a promising idea, to many charachters really are dual charachters with assumed identities - neither of which are defined before being revealed to be other ill-drawn charachters. There are too many secret agendas and cross-plots, though Coont's writing encourages re-reading. The charachters that aren't mysterious - "Toad" Tarkington, Rita Morovia and Grafton himself remain pretty crisp, though we haven't any of the great charachters from the first "Intruder". Still a worthy read and among Coonts' best.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overly long and pedantic, March 8, 2012
I guess I must dare to be different. Unlike everyone else who raves about this book, I found it boring the few times I have read it.

Stephen Coonts is a good author. His book "Flight of the Intruder" may be considered a classic novel of Vietnam; it was even made into a movie. The protaganist in that book, Jake Grafton, became a recurring figure in a series of novels about Naval aviation. The Minotaur is the fourth in the series.

In this book, Jake Grafton has survived a kamikaze attack on a ship carrying a terrorist who tried to capture nuclear weapons from an aircraft carrier (the main plot in the book "Final Flight"). Jake has recovered from his wounds and is dealing with the consequences of his actions. He is a hero to the nation for his actions and was awarded a Medal of Honor. However, the military considers him a renegade officer and would prefer to see him go away. However, because of his noteriety, the Navy was forced to keep him on active duty but made him "suffer" for his actions by giving him a staff position at the Pentagon. For Jake, it was the kiss of death for his career.

His role at the Pentagon was to coordinate work on a black project to build a stealth aircraft for the Navy. Additionally, the project was also working to develop a radar-cancelling device that would make stealth technology obsolete.

The main premise of the book is the espionage being conducted by various individuals to sell the secrets of the project to the Russians. Jake got the job after his predecessor was killed when an individual felt that his cover was blown. Jake eventually figures out who is ultimately giving the secrets to the Russians and learns why it was being done.

The book is quite long, nearly 600 pages. There are many subplots taking place in the book, at least six I can think of. Though the espionage-related subplots are intertwined, the number of characters involved can make it confusing to follow what is happening.

The subplot with Toad Tarkington (Jake's main friend) may make more sense if one reads Final Flight first, as he is a key player in that book. But it isn't necessary to understand this book; it just gives more background for him.

The book is interesting if you are curious about the workings of the Pentagon and the behind-the-scenes political maneuvering of the military. But most people probably already know how political anything involving the Defense Dept., especially procurement, is.

Ultimately, the book is long and boring. Unlike the other books in the series, there is no action. No bombing targets, no shipboard life anecdotes, no real anything. Even the espionage aspects aren't that thrilling, though the way they are written can be confusing until the very end. There were some interesting parts but, unlikely other books in the series, this was easy for me to put down; I didn't have to read "just one page."

Honestly, the only reason I read this book more than once was to figure out exactly what was going on (the first time I read it was in high school). The "big reveal" at the end sounds entirely plausible, that the "little people" are simply cannon fodder for politics. The convoluted storyline and multiple subplots can be difficult to follow, especially with the number of people that are mentioned.

If you are reading the "Jake Grafton series", you may as well read this one. But, in my opinion, Flight of the Intruder is the best of the series, followed by Final Flight. It may be because I'm in the Navy and the politics are too realistic, but The Minotaur is just too boring, in my opinion, and will be going in the donation bin.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spy catcher meets techno-thriller, May 19, 2004
By 
Rennie Petersen (Copenhagen, Denmark) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is the sixth Stephen Coonts book I've read, and the first one that I liked so much that I'm giving it five stars.
"The Minotaur" combines two main stories that are cleverly interwoven with each other.
Story 1: There's a traitor, code named Minotaur, somewhere high up in the Pentagon who is channeling America's top military secrets to Moscow. Amazingly, the Russians don't know the identity of this mole, so not just the FBI but also the KGB are feverishly doing everything they can to find out who this traitor is.
Story 2: The U.S. Navy is in the midst of a procurement project to obtain a new attack aircraft to replace the aging A-6 Intruder. The new airplane will be based on stealth technology, including a top-secret device to actively suppress radar reflections.
I found the procurement story to be especially interesting. There's a lot of presumably authentic inside information on how the U.S. military handles the procurement of a major weapons system. The political skullduggery involved was fascinating, with a high-ranking U.S. Senator manipulating the process in an attempt to get the contract awarded to a company in his state. This Senator was more interested in his own re-election than in whether the Navy got an optimal, or even usable, aircraft!
Mixed up with the two main stories are a fair number of sub-plots, most of them concerning the lives and personalities of various people in the book. These sub-plots display Stephen Coonts' talent for creating characters who are real people, not the cardboard clichés that populate most techno-thrillers.
Overall, the most enjoyable aspect of this book is the way it draws you into the story and makes you want to learn what's happening behind the scenes and why. Who is the Minotaur? Why is he (or she) passing secrets to the Russians? Will he/she be stopped?
Unless you have a very good memory, I would recommend that you create and maintain a list of the main characters in the book. Otherwise, things can become rather confusing, and your chances of guessing who the Minotaur is will be minimal.
There are some very exciting descriptions of the test flights involved in the procurement project, first with a modified A-6 Intruder and then with two different prototypes of the new stealth attack airplane. These narratives, and some general descriptions of the joys of flying, are an added attraction in "The Minotaur." Stephen Coonts' background as a pilot and flying enthusiast is obvious here.
If you like techno-thrillers populated with real people, and if you are interested in flying and especially in military aircraft, then I'm sure you'll like "The Minotaur."
Rennie Petersen
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the very best COONTS books !!!, July 22, 1999
By A Customer
I truly loved the story of the devolopment of a new military jet with all the difficulties that comes with such a development, a weird man who has devoloped a new generation of Stealth technoligy who isn't to easy to make a deal with is one example. That while the famous Jake Grafton was experimenting on his own scale model sailplane whit help from his neighbour boy. And, verry surprising: TOAD gets married, something I did not expected at all. A very good book with a real good Grafton story. I realy like this character and I hope he will stay in the future Coonts books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good effort from Coonts, October 25, 2002
All things considered, The Minotaur was an enjoyable book. Jake Grafton, just back from his harrowing, near-death experience in the Middle East, is struggling with his position in the Navy and with life in general. He accepts a staff position at the Pentagon. Fearing a bland, paper-pushing position, he finds himself as the head of a team charged with investigating and recommending a next-generation Navy fighter. At the same time, the US is at the height of the cold war with the Soviet Union and espionage efforts are in full swing. Coonts brings together a number of range of characters, while blending a number of sub-stories within the main story. The book moves quickly, with frequent plot twists and uncertainty until the end about the position and motivation of a number of the book's characters. If you are a fan of Coonts, it is worth going back for the Minotaur.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extremely enjoyable read, April 27, 2002
I very much enjoyed this high-tech (which is not quite up to Clancey), detective, spy thriller. Coonts does a great job of personalizing his characters (and here, I think, better than Clancey). This was the first book I've read by Coonts, and it was great even out of order for the series. I'm very happy to see that readers think there are better books by Coonts out there. They must be very good indeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, December 19, 2011
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Exciting and love to read this Author's books in the series (order) in which they were written. Written with passion and knowledge of the subjects he writes about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Coonts' best, with great intrigue, June 19, 2008
By 
A fine spy novel, and one of Coonts' best. The Grafton series in its beginning were military procedurals, about Grafton's early adventures as a carrier pilot in the Vietnam era. Later installments are more about espionage. I started with the latter, and worked my way back to the former. The latter are good but not exceptional, enjoyable for their low-key and realistic tone. Grafton's character comes through more in the earlier ones, where Coonts' love and knowledge of flying add another dimension to the books, and where you get a better sense of what a stand-up guy Grafton is, and why - more so than in the later books, when he is a high-ranking officer bureaucrat sleuth getting called in to deal with sensitive matters, and where younger characters get most of the action.

This book combines both elements. Grafton at its outset is literally on the beach - recovering from crash injuries that have ended his flying days, and in bad odor with the Navy despite having won the Medal of Honor, his career seemingly shot for his problems obeying orders.

He snaps out of a long-term funk when he gets the call to manage development of the next-generation stealth attack bomber, as the Soviet Union begins to cave at the end of the Cold War. The project has not only the usual procurement and political problems - Congressmen with axes to grind, manufacturers with inside tracks, Pentagon employees susceptible to bribes - but a possible penetration by a disturbingly high-level spy.

FBI agent Luis Camacho, charged with tracking the spy, enters the mirrors-upon-mirrors world of counterespionage, playing his cards so close to his chest his own deputy doesn't know what he's up to, or why.

Sidekick Toad Tarkington is put to work navigating the experimental models, working next to the skilled but inexperienced (and beautiful) test pilot Rita Moravia. Toad has to work through this particular working-with-a-woman thing as the two must test the plane with politicians breathing down their necks.

I couldn't put it down. Coonts does a great job particularly with the counterespionage, keeping you guessing until the end. Both Grafton's nostalgia for flight, and Tarkington's and Moravia's revelling in it, are well portrayed, helping expand and deepen the prose.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definetly Not Coonts' Best..., February 2, 1997
By A Customer
I picked up The Minotaur the morning after I finished Final Flight, and while it was better than a lot of the bilge I've read over the years, it was definetly not my favorite Coonts tale (I think that position will forever be held by Final Flight). Still, for a die-hard Coonts fan like myself, it's still required reading, and will provide adequate entertainment
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, July 5, 2014
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Very good story teller, you wind up being there. Very real
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Minotaur
Minotaur by Stephen Coonts (Hardcover - September 18, 1989)
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