cover image Solstice


David Hewson. Grand Central Publishing, $34 (480pp) ISBN 978-0-446-52449-0

Nonstop action drives this accessible high-tech thriller, putting frighteningly believable technology into the hands of a brilliant eco-terrorist. Hewson's third novel begins with a hot subject: heightened sunspot activity has accelerated global warming to the frying stage, and it seems that particular places are being targeted. Michael Lieberman is hired to map and analyze this phenomenon at Lone Wolf, a solar research station in Mallorca, but when Air Force One is zapped out of midair and two other satellite solar research stations are disabled, he springs into action. His investigations lead to Charlotte (Charley) Pascale, a long-lost friend and computer genius with whom he co-designed a solar powered satellite, equipped with megadeath superweapons, called Sundog. Secretly, Charley has seized Sundog and controls it so completely that global communications networks and financial markets crumble, and cities are incinerated. The CIA and FBI learn that Charley, stricken with a fatal disease, has hallucinated that Gaia (the ancient goddess of earth) has commanded her, and the terrorist cult she has founded, to destroy civilization in revenge for man's sins against the earth. Outsmarted by Charley at every turn, authorities believe Michael is the only one who can stop the mentally ill saboteur. Hewson cleverly mines the increasing vulnerability of the world's computer-dependent infrastructure to provide a megahertz action thriller. As his likable characters chase poor doomed Charley, they add poignancy and tension-breaking humor to this technically feasible nightmare. Rights sold in Germany and the U.K. (July) FYI: The author's previous novel, Semana Santa, won the W.H. Smith Fresh Talent Award. Hewson is a computer technology expert for the Times of London.