A DEADLY DISCOVERY by Ed Day

A DEADLY DISCOVERY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The inventors of a world-changing technology flee for their lives from those who want it for themselves in Day’s debut thriller.

Phil McPherson, Tucker Cherokee, and Maya Li perhaps anticipated money, fame, and honors from the launch of their landmark invention. But Project REM-E9—which provides electricity without the need for a fuel source—doesn’t sit well with the Russians, the Chinese, the American coal industry, OPEC, and the shadowy Consortium of Nations. The inventors ill-advisedly post a video on YouTube about their discovery, and in short order, McPherson is dispatched by a “large Asian man whose name he would never learn.” That man, Gang Chung, is an industrial-espionage agent and a nasty piece of work: “As I promised, Dr. McPherson, you saved yourself a lot of pain,” he tells the deceased McPherson after shooting him in the forehead, and as a coup de grâce, he pours a cup of tea onto his dead body (“I asked for tea, not this swill”). Assassin Alex Smolonov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cousin, receives a note with his latest orders: “Don’t come back without the secrets of how to make the discovery work.” And then there’s “Stiletto-man,” who kidnaps the wife and daughter of a National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency agent, in order to secure his cooperation in locating Cherokee. Day has the latter villain spout such B-movie-style threats as “I will perform sexual acts on them both if you don’t do exactly as I say.” The energy device at this book’s core is only a vaguely defined MacGuffin. The best techno-thrillers have a feeling of authenticity that’s rooted in deep tech knowledge, but in this area, the novel’s prose is as generic as the book’s title: “Whatever the disk did, it allowed her to bypass the username and password function.” That said, the story has one good energy source that keeps the pages turning: Day’s use of ominous foreshadowing, as in the line, “Little did Tucker know, that he would never again return to his apartment.” He also effectively leaves some instances of grisly violence to the reader’s imagination.

Not earthshaking, but an often entertaining discovery that ably sets up a sequel.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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