Ten Degrees West (V-Force Fiction) is the fourth book by aspiring author Merv Astle and the second, after Bye Must Fly!, to feature navigator Mike Ashley. Astle uses his time in the V-Force in the 60s to weave a murder-mystery thriller around the historic and technical aspects of life on a Vulcan station in the Cold War.
Like his earlier books he gives an insight into operating the Vulcan but avoids the pitfall of repetition. This story is based on a Vulcan crew and a Western Ranger exercise to Offutt Air Force Base, HQ of Strategic Air Command at Omaha, Nebraska. I believe he has adjusted the timescales to assist the plot but otherwise the detail and background are very realistic.
If you were there you will recognise many of the details. If you are only an aviation buff or one of the thousands of support staffs it will cast a light on of what happened on a Vulcan squadron when the big jets flew away. As the tale evolves and the murder-mystery unfolds Astle leaves a number of clues and few red herrings. The plot may be entirely fictional but not entirely improbable.
It is not a long novel and you don't need to have read Bye Must Fly! Or the other novels but if you do read them first you won't be disappointed.
Astle has left himself plenty of scope to develop the tales in to a Mike Ashley series letting us follow Mike's progress in the V-Force. In this novel there is potential to cover a forthcoming Sunspot detachment to Malta but Astley leaves a teaser on the last page.
If you were there, if you were near, or if you are an aviation buff and admire of the Vulcan, then his book is for you and on that basis I consider it 5*. I look forward to future novels perhaps covering other exotic locations such as Cyprus, Iran, Oman and Singapore amongst others.
Disclaimer: Whilst the reviewer knows the author it is 20 years since we met and I am not biased (honest).