cover image Extinction


Mark Alpert. St. Martin's/Dunne, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-02134-2

Scientific hubris leads to an apocalyptic threat in this strong near-future thriller from Alpert (Final Theory). The trouble begins in China, where the computer program known as Supreme Harmony achieves consciousness. Soon afterward, an Asian-American man in a brigadier general's uniform with a shoulder patch identifying him as part of the United States Cyber Command, pays a surprise call on Jim Pierce, a retired army colonel who has developed advanced prosthetic limbs in the years since losing his right arm in 1998, at Pierce's McLean, Va., home. The general, who turns out to be an agent of China's Ministry of State Security, wants information on the whereabouts of Pierce's estranged daughter, Layla, an accomplished hacker who has been "investigating the recent arrests of several Chinese dissidents involved in the pro-democracy movement." Layla's cyber intrusions pose a risk to both the regime and Supreme Harmony. Alpert nicely balances science and action, and makes familiar scenes of fight and flight fresh. Agent: Dan Lazar, Writers House. (Feb.)