cover image Dead on Arrival

Dead on Arrival

Matt Richtel. Morrow, $26.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-244327-4

Richtel (The Doomsday Equation) grabs his audience by the throat from the start of this intelligent nail-biter, which riffs on the story line of The Langoliers, a Stephen King novella. Despite the absence of any ground communications, Eleanor Hall, a Delta Air Lines captain, safely lands her aircraft in Steamboat Springs, Colo., only to find that everyone outside the plane is dead. Desperate to understand what’s going on, she recruits the help of a passenger, doctor Lyle Martin, an expert on infectious diseases, whose career is on the decline. As Eleanor, Lyle, and her first officer, Jerry Weathers, try to determine how best to keep things calm in the plane’s cabin, they are further rattled when they discover that almost all the passengers have also suddenly died from no apparent cause. The narrative flashes back three years to an encounter Lyle had with Jackie Badger, whose life he once saved and whose gift at seeing hidden patterns has made her a valued asset for her employer, Google. Back in the present, Eleanor and company must battle a lethal virus that threatens all of humanity. Compelling characters that readers will become emotionally invested in complement the clever plotting. Agent: Laurie Liss, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Aug.)