An intelligence expert teams up with survivalists when a bizarre weather event prefaces a plan to stir up chaos among American citizens in this techno-thriller.
Simon Redfall’s been off the grid for two years, hated by the U.S. public almost as much as his wife, Tessa, convicted of gunning down 64 people. After someone spots him at Tessa’s execution, he narrowly escapes a mob of the victims’ families, distracted by a sudden downpour of thick red rain. He gets away relatively unscathed thanks to prepper Tally Wickie, whose community and compound, Pandora, reside on her farm and who needs Simon’s help. The founder and CEO of now-bankrupt security conglomerate Ghost Works, Simon may be able to unravel the mystery behind the deaths and disappearances of scientists (including Tally’s grandparents) over the last two decades. Tally also notes a recent “movement” in weather-related fields surrounding company RaineTech, likely confirmed by the rainfall that’s apparently interrupting communications. It only gets worse: Tally’s brother Wyatt, with his own camp, Jericho, gets an untraceable UPS delivery of munitions. Someone, it seems, is trying to pit factions against one another and generate bedlam in the streets. Gen. Nate Rawlings sends Nighthawk—essentially a Ghost Works replacement—to find Simon, who in turn can help locate RaineTech CEO Jeffrey Hansen. Simon already has his hands full, however, when Jericho faces a full-on assault. Falconer (Redfall: Freedom Fighters, 2016, etc.) employs his near-future setting to great effect, most disturbingly with Tessa’s televised execution. A redesigned lethal injection prolongs the condemned woman’s torment, all to appease a bloodthirsty audience. The book’s latter half, somewhat disappointingly, shifts focus from the dystopian backdrop to action, particularly once armed men abduct Pandora preppers. But numerous subplots give the narrative momentum, such as Tally’s reputed evidence that Tessa may not have been responsible for the mass killing. The story can be repetitive; for example, three different people from three separate groups each threaten to “bleed” someone. Nevertheless, Falconer’s dense plot ties up at least one subplot, with copious questions remaining: who, for one, is truly behind Operation Trident, the terroristlike strike that started with red rain?
Solid action but a dystopia left unexplored—though later series entries are primed to do just that.