Near-future science-fiction thriller from the author of A Darkling Sea (2014).
With nuclear fusion a reality, Westinghouse has set up a base on the moon to mine helium from the lunar regolith. Each shipment is worth 2 billion Swiss francs, and cybercriminal David Schwartz, who calls himself Captain Black the Space Pirate, specializes in hijacking them. Air Force Capt. Elizabeth Santiago, mission director for monitoring the hijackers, suspects Captain Black is Schwartz (they had a brief affair while she attended MIT) but can’t prove it. While trying to prevent a hijacking, she exceeds her orders and is reassigned to an Air Force–sponsored private company in Florida that is developing new mobile satellites and needs a mission director. Again she oversteps her orders and tries to weaponize a satellite. The mysterious Col. Ghavami contacts Schwartz, meanwhile, and hires him to hijack a shipment. Schwartz finds himself in Pakistan, patrolled by a gang of thugs and chafing under what he considers Ghavami’s unnecessary restrictions. Schwartz escapes from Pakistan—his location is immaterial; he can hack into systems and pull off the hijack from anywhere—only to find that his carefully constructed cover is beginning to unravel. Eventually a chance encounter will bring Schwartz and Santiago in contact. Unfortunately, Cambias has to wrench and hammer his thin plot to fit all this. Neither do the main characters convince: Schwartz, with an annoyingly adolescent mentality, often seems amazingly dim, while it’s hard to understand how even the Air Force could tolerate Santiago’s chronic insubordination. And savvy readers will see where it’s all going about halfway through. Still, the action is brisk against colorful international locations, the hijacks well-handled and exciting.
A potboiler that fans of Cambias’ previous excellent work will wish to investigate.