cover image The Trials

The Trials

Linda Nagata. S&S/Saga, $9.99 mass market (480p) ISBN 978-1-4814-4095-0

Nagata's second near-future thriller starts more sedately than did The Red, the first book in her high-octane trilogy. U.S. Army Lieutenant James Shelley and the survivors of his cybernetically linked Apocalypse Squad are standing trial for kidnapping a billionaire and bringing her to justice for her role in the use of nuclear weapons against the United States. After the court-martial, the president pardons the soldiers, because public opinion is overwhelmingly in their favor. Now a civilian, and apparently no longer protected by the AI called the Red, Shelley is targeted by assassins and quickly learns that other billionaire traitors still have nuclear devices to deploy. Now expressly working for a vigilante organization, he and his squad undertake a series of violence-laden missions in order to recover those devices. Nagata's perfect conspiracy fantasy equally condemns the U.S. government and the 1%. Three things make this a superior thriller: the author's powerfully depicted, flawed, but sympathetic protagonist; her equally well-drawn, believable and virtually cut-from-the-headlines depiction of highly competent women warriors; and the book's heart-pounding action sequences. Readers new to Shelley's adventures should probably start the series at its beginning. (Aug.)