West coast post-disaster yarn from first-time novelist Swavely.
Following a devastating earthquake, San Francisco’s police chief, Saul Rabin, formed a private corporation called the Bay Area Security Service and became the destroyed region’s de facto ruler. The rest of the U.S. has its own troubles and is happy for Rabin to rule with an iron fist and steer an independent course. The privileged few, including Rabin’s lieutenants, Darien Anthony, first-person narrator Michael Ares and Saul’s son, Paul, live in remote, heavily securitized enclaves. The only opposition is provided by ex-employee Harold Harris and his gadfly followers. Then, Paul tells Michael that Darien has been murdered; worse, in the car when the bomb exploded was Michael’s daughter. Lynn, Michael’s wife, falls apart as Michael leads the investigation, which goes nowhere. Then, Paul reveals that the murderer was—Michael! According to Paul, Saul had a microchip implanted in Michael’s head, which allows Saul to take control, which explains why Michael has no memory of the incident. But what could Saul’s motive be? Maybe it has something to do with the anti-gravity technology BASS has developed, by which means Saul is about to become a power player on the world stage. Unfortunately, Swavely offers few clues as to how this post-quake scenario developed—routine exposition in the middle of an action sequence doesn’t cut it—and no idea how the high-tech toys might work. For the rest, all the pieces link up, though the general affect is flat, and less patient readers might find themselves muttering, dude, loosen up!
Overly cautious; needs juice.