Ground Zero

Bonnie Ramthun, Author Putnam Publishing Group $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-14509-4
Though it begins as a promising locked-room mystery, Ramthun's debut novel tdiverges into a gadget-heavy techno-terrorist thriller. When a female war-gamer at a top secret air force base is murdered while testing the ballistic missile defense system during a global war game, Colorado Springs homicide detective Eileen Reed is sent to investigate before government officials can arrive to cover it up. The murder is a puzzle and Reed is stumped, but there are bigger problems looming. Somebody at the base is selling secrets to a rogue spy, and CIA analyst Lucy Giometti is hot on the trail of Fouad Muallah, a wacked-out Arab terrorist who plans to involve the U.S. and Russia in a nuclear war that will leave him emperor of a worldwide Islamic regime. The murder victim, the spy and the terrorist are all connected, but it takes a long time to get to the heart of the case and the body count rises as Reed and Giometti try to figure out the links between them. Veteran cop Reed has loads of suspects with motives for the murder, but she is distracted by her emotions, falling for a prime suspect. When she misses the biggest clue to the killer's identity, the reader suspends belief in her ability as a cop. Giometti, however, is a hoot. Pregnant, sassy and brilliant, she stuffs her face with Twinkies and beef jerky, and lets nothing, especially the top brass, get in the way of her pursuit of Muallah. Former Defense Department war-gamer Ramthun's overwhelming use of computer and space technology and bureaucratic procedure bogs down and dilutes her otherwise well-conceived tale of murder, espionage and terrorism. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1999
Release date: 08/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 341 pages - 978-0-425-17632-0
Paperback - 366 pages - 978-1-4929-1409-9
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