cover image Critical Mass

Critical Mass

David Hagberg. Tor Books, $19.95 (375pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85255-9

The author of Crossfire sets his fast-paced new thriller in motion with an exciting scenario: an embittered Hiroshima survivor's attempt to explode nuclear devices in San Francisco and Los Angeles on the anniversaries of the two atomic bomb attacks that ended WW II. In Paris, former CIA assassin Kirk McGarvey sees his lover's plane shot down by a Stinger missile fired by a team of East German assassins in the employ of madman Isowa Makkamura. Seeking revenge, McGarvey begins to pick up Makkamura's trail after a brutal killing in Tokyo, but the East Germans kidnap his ex-wife and daughter to throw him off the track. The bloody effort to rescue the two women obscures the main plot line for a while, but McGarvey eventually confronts Makkamura in Tokyo, then joins him on a deadly flight across the Pacific before the book's final crisis, which is resolved only in the final sentence. McGarvey may be a little too superhuman--and the villains too evil by half--to be believed, but tension never lags in this certified page-turner. ( June )