Whitley Streiber's new novel, "Critical Mass," is more than a thriller, more than a spy story, more than science fiction.
It takes on the premise: what if terrorists DID nuke an American city and had devices in place to terminate Western civilization? What if America could counter extremists with an equally devastating weapon of reprisal?
The hero, Jim Deutsch, is equal parts McGyver, Jack Ryan, Indiana Jones, and Bourne. Add in Jim's love, a Moslem woman, Nabila, who works for American security. A cast of characters from the Pope to the American president to a host of foreign extremists completes the page-turning tension.
Streiber is at his best with the small details of horrifying death [the people] "tumbling toward the flame, in the dust, in the chaos," and "The wall exploded inward. . .burying the smoking chucks of . . .bodies in the fiery debris. So each soul started with a question, entered a moment of horror, then knew death."
Moreover, he uses the clarity of the theme of people in power, those who could prevent catastrophe, those who do not act. And he warns that this time is coming, that nuclear proliferation is a threat to life as we know it. As he did in "Nature's End," Streiber presents the facts of environmental and human disaster, using the evidence that is already in front of us, but personalizing it with characters we care about.
Although the narrator states, ". . .nuclear destruction remained something that was really beyond imagination, and its effects were far more terrible than its planners had anticipated," it is clear that Streiber is calling for action NOW to prevent disaster SOON.
This is a terrifying, realistic, absorbing book