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ABYSS by David Hagberg


by David Hagberg

Pub Date: June 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2410-8
Publisher: Forge

Ex-CIA chief Kirk McGarvey fends off charlatans and terrorists in this exciting and largely plausible eco-thriller.

Powerful oil interests concoct a plot to make all other forms of energy repugnant to the public, and where better to begin than with destroying a nuclear power plant? That done and the public duly frightened, the conspirators turn on Dr. Evelyn Larsen, a scientist who has devised a plan to supply energy using non-polluting ocean power. The public face of the anti-everything-but-oil campaign is a cynical preacher with presidential ambitions, while behind the scenes a South African mercenary spills plenty of blood with exceeding skill. McGarvey is a smart, level-headed hero whose most effective weapon is his brain as he matches wits with some highly talented criminals. Quite a few characters are introduced before McGarvey finally walks onstage in Chapter Eight, and that seems to fit his relatively modest temperament. The pacing is good, though occasionally the momentum hiccups for an explanation of a new character’s background. One man’s speech tic has him often saying, “honest injun, kemo sabe,” an expression that should have been retired with Tonto and the Lone Ranger. Also, an important female character likes to demean the Nobel Prize–winning Larsen as “the lady scientist,” which feels both irritating and implausible, though one of the two women may turn out to be McGarvey’s love interest. Other than those few quirks, the book moves along well and would make an entertaining movie with plenty of great visual effects. 

Given the BP oil spill and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, this is a timely and frightening novel. Readers will be left thinking, This could really happen.