A timely, complex thriller about the global politics of fossil fuels, patents and the promise of technological progress.
Howard generates a certain aura of skepticism with his book’s subtitle, “The Iranian Version of this Novel.” He isn’t talking about the language or ethnicity of his novel, but rather the previous incarnations that led to the book’s current form (swapping out Iraq for Iran). But once Howard begins his narrative proper, its daring is immediate—the first scene of this contemporary thriller features a tyrannosaurus bearing witness to the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous; the resource that the beast and other ancient fauna will produce after their deaths is at the center of the novel’s global plot. Howard wears his influences on his sleeve and his book is a creative reworking along the particular genre strains created by Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton. The narrative jets around the world to multiple settings as the novel unleashes a salvo of exposition; there is a devastating crude-killing virus unleashed on the world’s oil supplies by the Iranians, a game-changing production process about to be unleashed on the insatiable global petroleum market by the Chinese, a young Israeli with a patent that may change the world’s entire economic order, a bold American CEO who refuses to let the United States fall behind and an American president who must navigate the West through the treacherous terrain of the 21st century. Howard deftly choreographs these potentially flighty plots, a remarkable feat considering the intimidating amount of complex political and technological detail. But he does so by an almost kaleidoscopic process of short chapters and abrupt changes in setting, from the Oval Office to Shenyang, China. These brief sections keep the reader burning through the pages, but there are a few instances in an otherwise thoughtfully crafted plot where elegance is sacrificed for efficiency. However, a techno-thriller with a message about humanity’s stewardship of resources is a welcome addition to a genre that often suffers from too many hack jobs and the wanton excesses of special-ops machismo. This is a book that plunges readers into a world dominated by avarice, fierce competition and breakneck innovation, and delivers them to a rousing, hopeful conclusion.
A dense but satisfying read that will please devotees of the blockbuster political thriller.