RATS by Joe Klingler


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In Klingler’s debut thriller, a female sniper tracks down a bomber who targets U.S. military interests.

A motorcyclist leaves Alaska’s Caribou Motel at dawn. Using the name Arthur Tresuniak, the man drives at top speed toward the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Once within range, he begins tossing metallic, rod-shaped devices along the pipeline’s structure. The dozens of devices, equipped with tire treads, antennae and explosives, are called Rats. Arthur detonates them after racing away. The resulting disaster (which, from above, resembles a “Firesnake”) causes the stock of major oil companies to plummet and U.S. President Mallor to panic over his chances at re-election. Enter Gen. Billy Williams and his sharpshooting love, Col. Claire Ferreti. They visit Alaska to investigate just who or what is behind the pipeline sabotage. There, they meet 12-year-old Billy Norton, an imaginative kid who happens to have found an undetonated Rat. After Williams has specialists study the device, he learns that the Alaskan bomber’s profile matches that of the Demon—a shadowy operative known only by the faintest digital trail. Tracing the Demon to the Chinese-Vietnamese border, Williams decides to send Claire after him. Klingler’s debut offers a deep logistical jungle sure to entertain buffs and newcomers to the techno-thriller genre. Throughout, he displays fierce writing chops: He describes the pipeline as “a scar from a knife fight Alaska lost.” Short chapters balance action and subterfuge with political thought targeted keenly at modern drone warfare. Petry, a man running for president against Mallor, tells his audience to strive for “A world where robots are producing, not destroying, our way of life.” A subplot follows the fate of young Billy, who, after seeing a Rat detonate, is silenced by trauma; the theme of children suffering the worst during wartime—and long after—propels the rest of the plot into suitably daring territory.

A nuanced techno-thriller with both brains and brawn.

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1941156025
Page count: 454pp
Publisher: Cartosi LLC
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2014


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