Want to save the world from destruction? Solve the puzzles.
While playing an elaborate scavenger-hunt-cum-word-puzzle game that his friend Adam Hale designed in 1981, scholar Robert Reckliss finds in Katherine Rota the woman of his dreams. His tale moves back and forth from these salad days in Cambridge across the Atlantic to New York City in September 2004, with memories of 9/11 still fresh. Robert, now living in the suburbs with Katherine and their young son Moss, receives a mysterious package containing a round metallic box and a piquant message: “Please help me.” Who else but Adam could be behind it? Robert treats the surprise casually until it’s linked to the unexpected suicide of Lawrence Hencott, the CEO of a corporation with whom he’s working. In short order, Robert is enmeshed with Lawrence’s brother Horace, a close associate of Adam who guides Robert through a maze of thorny puzzles he must solve in order to derail a devilish plot to detonate the eponymous weapon. Along the way, Robert has a guilty affair with beautiful psychic Terri, and flashbacks provide further background to his present mission. The finale hinges on a map of Manhattan and the Republican National Convention being held there.
Langfield’s fiction debut, which sacrifices conventional thrills to a series of cerebral challenges, comes linked to a website offering many more puzzles inspired by Robert’s quest.