cover image The Doomsday Equation

The Doomsday Equation

Matt Richtel. Morrow, $14.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-220118-8

In the tantalizing prologue of this technological thriller from Richtel (The Cloud), a woman uncages a zoo lion for an unknown reason. Meanwhile in San Francisco, Jeremy Stillwater has developed a mind-blowing algorithm that harnesses big data to predict large-scale human conflict. Stillwater’s formula blends disparate pieces of information on “oil and food prices, temperature and tides, population density, migrations from rural areas and back,” and much more. His work is put on hold when his program predicts that the world will end in less than three days, sending him on a frantic search to verify the data, identify the specific threat, and attempt to forestall it. Richtel does a nice job of making Stillwater less than likable, but after the engrossing setup, the bulk of the book feels more like a cookie-cutter, race-the-clock suspense novel than something new. Agent: Laurie Liss, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Feb.)