A most unusual and compelling thriller, “Launch Code” centers on one of those nuclear submarine “near miss” situations that fill us with dread – a 1983 order to release missiles at the Soviet Union, beginning the nuclear winter. The calamity is averted but a crew member is dead and 36 years later, ex-submarine Lieutenant Bill Guth and his family, gathered in England, are embroiled in a related murder. Ridpath is a wonderful plotter and fine stylist and the story rockets towards its multiple-twist ending. All the characters come alive and the rural countryside setting leaps off the pages. I remember Michael Ridpath fondly from his considerably older financial mysteries; he has lost none of his timeliness and flair.