THE DAM by Robert Byrne


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When earth tremors strike California's super-sized Sierra Canyon Dam, Byrne sets in motion another engineering novel with the rich detail and smart pacing of The Tunnel (1977). The hero here is young Phil Kramer, newest engineer at Roshek, Belch & Benedetz (which designed the dam and monitors it), whose computer savvy tells him that the dam is about to burst. But when Phil attempts to convince boss Theodore Roshek (a crippled genius) of the danger, he gets transferred to the London office. Why is Roshek trying to cover up Phil's findings--as well as the drowning disappearance of a veteran maintenance engineer at the dam? Because he's after a presidential appointment as head of the new US Dept. of Technology (an opportunity also endangered by Roshek's extramarital shenanigans). Phil, however, is not so easily stonewalled. Not in London at all, he disguises himself as a dam inspector, gets admitted into the dam, finds irreversible breakage in Gallery D (where that engineer disappeared), finds a body, and gets thrown in jail when he tries to spread a warning. But thanks to Phil's girlfriend Janet (a fellow computer specialist), the dam's peril is made public. And, now released by Roshek's order, Phil guides the safety measures. . . until the dam bursts utterly, in an enormous rolling hoop of crushed buildings and trees in the wave's town-sweeping forefront. No surprises, and lots of thriller-plot clichÉs--but Byrne keeps things well above par with witty, vigorous characters and engineering smarts galore.

Pub Date: March 18th, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum