A taught tech-thriller that chronicles the romantic bonding of two heroes and their struggle to expose a rogue U.S. Army Special Forces unit.
At the center of this pleasingly complicated Clancy-esque yarn—though one skeptical of the military industrial complex—is the shadowy School of the Americas. This institution of higher learning—renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001—was for the training of Latin American intelligence, military and police forces, run quietly by the U.S. Department of Defense until the stories of its alumni’s post-graduate genocide came to light in the late ’90s. In this ingenious little novel, the school is also a place where special operations forces are trained in highly advanced, almost virtual, sessions; if caught during an exercise in escape, cadets are taken to an ersatz prison where the beatings are real. It’s a fascinating setting, but, blessedly, this book has as much heart and head as guts and glory. Sandra Tellan, the widow of a former commander of a special unit called Hazmat, receives a rude awakening when her computer spouts out strange code. She informs the military of the incident, and from there, the story does not let up. Sandra is being watched, and the Hazmat team is on a seemingly warrantless, capricious killing spree through the Chicago area. She turns to college professor Charlie Hart—the chemistry between the two is authentic and immediate—whose work on urban planning has become a kind of guide map for the marauding killers. However, Sandra and Charlie have the Necros Tracker, a program written by her husband that allows them to track the murders using data from law enforcement agencies. How exactly this all fits together is only part of the novel’s fun, and the denouement does not disappoint. Harris’ prose is lively and unpretentious, yet generous enough to create spaces for the imagination without eschewing the pleasurable detail and emotions in the interest of racing to the next page. The literate descriptions of scenery and atmosphere and the knowledgeable weaving of historic fact with clever, relevant fiction make the novel’s romantic and relevant conclusion well worth the journey.
A topical adventure that will please fans of military and technological intrigue.