Matthew Reilly, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $24.95 (387p) ISBN 978-0-312-26685-1

Reilly, the pedal-to-the-metal action novelist from Australia, returns here with yet another inelegant yet oddly invigorating rip-snorter about—what else—world domination. The setting this time is Area 7, a top-secret military outpost in the barren outback of Utah where government scientists are trying to perfect a new vaccine that will protect Americans from the Sinovirus, a deadly disease invented by the Chinese to kill everyone on Earth except themselves. A rogue air force general, the evil Caesar Russell, has other plans, however. During a visit by the president of the United States, Russell and his band of elite mercenaries capture Area 7. Their aim: kill the president, take over the country and use the Sinovirus to poison all but members of the white race. But Marine Capt. Shane Schofield isn't going to let that happen. With his usual mix of unflagging bravery and superhuman strength—Schofield starred in Reilly's 1999 American debut Ice Station—the relentless Marine and his tight group of highly competent sidekicks battle Russell on land, water and in space. As is Reilly's style, the action moves at a scenery-blurring pace, and his third novel (following last year's Temple) can make for exhausting reading. He employs just about every tactic—both clever and crude—to keep the suspense afloat. Character development is nil, and dialogue is at times comic-strip bad. Yet the sheer frenzy of Reilly's approach can inspire awe. How many heroes, after all, can kill an enemy aboard the space shuttle in outer space, then return to earth and dispatch another foe by pushing him into a pool full of meat-eating Komodo dragons—all over the course of less than an hour? Speed demons, take note. Author tour. (Feb. 12)

Reviewed on: 12/10/2001
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
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