A roller coaster run amok is only the curtain raiser in this blood-and-thunder tale of Americans doing what they do best: neutralizing domestic saboteurs who also happen to be Americans.
There’s no reason that the Black Mamba, the state-of-the-art concession Nathan Morrell just designed for Flying Machines Inc., would self-destruct in the middle of a maiden voyage carrying 26 happily screaming members of the Coaster Crazies. But it does, and twice: second, when a welded joint in the track failed, sending the Crazies hurtling to their doom, and first, moments earlier, when the safety bars holding them in inexplicably failed. Surgical nurse Shelby Sutcliffe, the only Crazy to survive the calamity, remembers distinctly that her safety bar loosened before the coaster went off the rails. But no one seems to believe her—certainly not John Fletcher, the National Transportation Safety Board investigator charged with reporting on the incident for reasons no one can explain—except for Nate Morrell himself, who risked his own life to save Shelby and who knows perfectly well that it was no welded joint but a solid piece of metal that somehow failed. Nor is it any mystery why the fix is in: Carl Masterson, Director of Security and Intelligence for the National Security Agency, arranged the accident in order to keep a monstrous rogue terrorist operation secret, and he’s equally willing to arrange more accidents for anyone imprudent enough to get in his way, from recent survivors of amusement-park mishaps to the roller-coaster designers who’ve fallen for them. As for what that operation is—well, we’d tell you, but then we’d have to kill you.
Parkin and Darby can’t write a memorable sentence between them, but they do keep the paranoid complications coming fast and furious. Be warned: every explanation of how a particularly impressive bit of technology is supposed to work indicates that this time it won’t.