cover image Vulcan's Forge

Vulcan's Forge

Jack B. Du Brul. Forge, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86481-1

A nifty evil-scientist gimmick jump-starts Du Brul's thriller debut. In the 1950s, a Soviet nuclear blast creates a baby volcano in the South Pacific seabed that will take 40 years to rise to the surface. The blast also forges a new metal potentially worth billions. Fifty years later, rogue KGB agent Ivan Kerikov secretly sends a submarine to guard the emerging island--while he gets rich in a shady Korean deal. After the sub sinks a research ship, geologist (and ex-CIA commando) Philip Mercer races to protect lone survivor Dr. Tish Talbot, now in a D.C. hospital. Foiling an attack, he spirits Talbot to his home, strewing the streets and Washington subway with bodies. Talbot's maritime contacts lead Mercer to a KGB shipping front in New York, where more bodies pile up. Meanwhile, Takahiro Ohnishi, an agent planted in Hawaii during the Soviet era, is fomenting riots among Hawaiians demanding to secede from the U.S. (this was Soviet Plan B, in case the volcano rose in Hawaiian territory). Can Mercer stop them? Du Brul's well-calculated debts to Fleming, Cussler, Easterman and Lustbader, his technological, political and ecological research and his natural gift for storytelling bode well for a more seasoned sequel. (Mar.)