Dan Brown, Author . Pocket $25 (384p) ISBN 978-0-671-02737-7

Struggling to rebound from a series of embarrassing blunders that have jeopardized its political life at the start of this lively thriller, NASA makes an astounding discovery: there is a meteor embedded deep within the arctic ice. And it isn't just any meteor. Inside the huge rock, which crashed to earth in 1716, are fossils of giant insects—proof of extraterrestrial life. Yet, given NASA's slipping reputation, the question arises: Is the meteor real or a fake? That uncertainty dogs NASA and its supporters in Brown's latest page-flipper, a finely polished amalgam of action and intrigue. Trying to determine the truth are intelligence agent Rachel Sexton and popular oceanographer Michael Tolland, both among the first to suspect something is amiss when the meteor is pulled from the ice. Their doubts quickly make them the targets of a mysterious death squad controlled by someone or something that doesn't want the public to hear the meteor may be a fraud. Together, Sexton and Tolland scramble across arctic glaciers, take refuge on ice floes, are rescued by a nuclear submarine, then find themselves trapped aboard a small research vessel off the coast of New Jersey. All the while, the nation's capital is buzzing as to whether NASA has engaged in deception. Or is NASA just a dupe for aerospace companies that have long wanted a bigger share of space contracts? Brown (Angels & Demons) moves into new territory with his latest. It's an excellent thriller—a big yet believable story unfolding at breakneck pace, with convincing settings and just the right blend of likable and hateful characters. He's also done his research, folding in sophisticated scientific and military details that make his plot far more fulfilling than the norm. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/10/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
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