A breezy sci-fi mystery about a covert alien invasion set in the Rocky Mountains.
An alien spacecraft approaches Earth. The ship’s physician, Zayeth, performs dangerous surgeries on her crewmates to make them appear more human. For the last few years, they’ve been studying the cultures and mannerisms of earthlings via intercepted satellite signals. Further, they’ve amassed a small fortune by hacking into Earth’s financial systems. Disguised as humans, Zayeth’s crew must determine whether the blue planet is suitable for their species, which is now orphaned among the stars. Three years later, Henry Lucas, a shy store clerk in Vernal, Utah, is driving through the mountains to visit his grandmother when a stranded, beautiful woman flags him down. Hysterical, she tells Henry about her bizarre employers and begs him to help. After eavesdropping and discovering documents written in an alien language, she’s convinced that her boss plans to take over the world. Meanwhile, FBI agent Ian Shadix is in town from Denver, looking into reports that cybersecurity firm Blue Star—the same security firm that employs Henry’s hitchhiker—might be stealing money and information from its own clients. The characters’ paths intersect atop a peak in the Utah wilderness where the aliens hope to complete their plans for colonization. The author’s premise is tantalizing, and the rustic Rocky Mountain setting adds an original spin. But with the exception of Henry, Holt’s rushed narrative glosses its characters and environments, leading to a climax that would be explosive if the major players were less generic.
A fresh, small-town take on the “aliens among us” thriller that needs more detail.