Debut author Steere shows off his air-and-space mastery in this swashbuckling tale of Apollo 18, the moon landing that never was.
In Steere’s version of 1976, astronauts Bob Cartwright, Mason Gale and Steve Dayton head toward the moon to explore the lunar feature known as Mare Crisium, but the landing team of Cartwright and Gale discovers something out of place. Water? Aliens? A black monolith? The world never finds out, since the crew isn’t heard from or seen again until their capsule, a charred wreck containing three crisp corpses, plunges into the Pacific. Thirty years later, Nate, Peter and Matt—the sons of mission commander Cartwright—find themselves tangled in the investigation of what really happened. Peter, a journalist, starts it all by ferreting out NASA documents and questioning Gale’s surviving relatives in Minnesota. Now he’s being followed. Oldest brother Nate, a crack legal consultant, comes to the rescue in LA by using his organizational skills to execute evasive maneuvers against bad guys who send impolite warnings in the form of animal carcasses. The two escape to Idaho in search of Matt, Peter’s twin, who was once attached to an off-the-grid military-intelligence unit known as the Organization. Things get devilishly complicated, conspiratorial and dangerous as the brothers are pushed toward the Atlantic coast amid a series of revelations in the form of flashbacks to the lunar sea. Steere’s high-octane suspense tale takes off with all the intrigue and honor of the best Space-Age Westerns and political thrillers. Good guys, bad guys, damsels in distress, secret tunnels, sexy aircraft, heavy ordnance and gadgets galore are set handsomely by Steere’s deft renderings. A bit of melodrama and some boilerplate dialogue don’t derail this solidly built module whose commanding verisimilitude will enthrall space and tech enthusiasts as well as anyone ready for adventure.
A stellar thriller that handily juggles its formulaic elements to achieve near-perfect liftoff.