by Richard Steinberg ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 1, 1998
Debut thriller and probable first installment of a trilogy by a writer who, at 24, founded his own high-risk international security firm. With a 186-point IQ, US supercommando Brian Newman may be an evolutionary step upward, although he at first seems a kind of supremely intelligent Frankenstein monster, most suited for acts of widespread destruction. Morally blank Newman, admittedly very bright but best known as a dangerous delinquent and failed soldier, had been recruited by a special unit and groomed by the military for secret ops (i.e., sabotage). Newman blows up an atomic reactor in the Soviet Union, causing a horrifying death toll, and is subsequently held for six years in a secret, ice-bound prison in Siberia (where we last saw Mary Shelley's monster at her novel's close). Twice escaping, he has braved subzero weather for days before being recaptured. And when finally traded out to the US military, he apparently kills one of his erstwhile captors without even touching him. The Americans, too, treat him as if he's a monster, albeit one of their own, and put him under study and into deep imprisonment at the Volker Institute in Germany. Showing little hostility, a humanized Newman confounds his analysts, who hold his life in low regard; but then he escapes to Vienna and warns his former captors not to pursue him, threatening to blow up a second atomic reactor if they do. The low-key action climax finds our man seemingly killing himself in a fireball, but alert readers will know that Steinberg has barely begun to wring the possibilities out of his Prometheus. Unlike Mary Shelley (or Bernard Shaw), Steinberg doesn't engage his â€ bermensch at the richest levels, but as a melodrama this is neatly done, offering a consistenfiy gripping narrative.
Pub Date: April 1, 1998
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1998
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