Ex–Department of Defense analyst Lewis Cole is caught in a fatal crossfire between rabid anti-nuke activists and the corporate and union stalwarts behind New Hampshire’s Falconer Unit 2.
In an eerie prefiguration of last month’s headlines, a calamitous nuclear accident, this one deep inside Russia, has flushed out hundreds of protestors against the construction of a nuclear reactor. Bronson Toles, the aging countercultural hero who runs the Stone Chapel, a pioneering music venue, is joined by Curt Chesak, coordinator for the Nuclear Freedom Front. Or not quite joined, since Chesak is so wary of publicity that he never appears in public and is never seen without a mask except by his most trusted followers. Denise Pichette-Volk, the hard-charging new managing editor at Shoreline, insists that Lewis (Primary Storm, 2006, etc.) supplement the monthly features he writes to justify a salary that the Defense Department paid for years ago as the price of his silence about an ugly secret with daily hard-news stories about the demonstrations. On top of not liking the pressure of acting like a real reporter, Lewis feels stuck in the middle between idealistic young protestors like UNH student Haleigh Miller and his old friend Diane Woods, of the Tyler Police Department. At length, there’s a murder less important in itself than for its devastating effects on Paula Quinn, Lewis’s ex-lover and colleague at the Tyler Chronicle. And there’s a good deal more violence and soul-searching.
As usual, DuBois works hard to give every possible attitude toward nuclear plants a sympathetic hearing, and he’s honest enough to acknowledge that solving the mystery does nothing to solve the problems he raises so compellingly.