MELTDOWN by James Powlik


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Beneath those ice floes lurks a deadly new form of plague, in oceanographer Powlik’s chilling new technothriller.

After triumphing over the dread pfisteria, a pernicious waterborne bug (Sea Change, 1999), Dr. Carol Harmon, boss of a group of hotshot biotech consultants, has a right to expect at least a brief disaster-free hiatus—until the moment when, as she’s contentedly studying the endangered Balaenoptera (blue whale), the stakes are suddenly sky-high again. Two friends and associates have sickened after an experimental expedition, and shortly thereafter they die horribly of radiation poisoning. How? Why? The answers are far from clear, but Carol is a smart enough scientist to be good and worried about the implications. And whenever she’s worried she turns, however reluctantly, to the same source for aid and sustenance: Brock Garner, a Navy lieutenant commander, noted oceanographer, and Carol’s still-loved ex-husband. Carol hates being dependent on this paragon. But who’s more resourceful, more doggedly determined, more downright brilliant than Brock Garner? So she calls him again, though they’re literally poles apart—she’s at the North, he’s at the South when her message reaches him—and they’re soon reunited, facing another insuperable challenge: locate the source of the radiation, then stop the poison from spreading before the planet turns into one vast Hiroshima. Murders, betrayals, personal agendas get in the way—to say nothing of the magnitude of the task itself—but Harmon and Garner, still romantically inclined and redoubtable as ever, manage to save the world once more.

A good story that would have been even better if Powlik had eased up on the biotechnical detail, content to hook his readers instead of impressing the pants off them as well.

Pub Date: Dec. 5th, 2000
ISBN: 0-385-33400-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2000