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Impact by Douglas Preston
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Macmillan Audio Audio CD  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781427206817
Date: 05 January 2010 List Price $39.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

A great fast-paced story. A meteor hits the earth, but it turns out to not be a meteor at all. Ex-CIA agent Wyman Ford discovers the secret and must alert the world, but someone is trying to kill him to cover up the information.

Impact, by Douglas Preston, has three separate plotlines that converge at about the half-way point. That is the sign of a good book.

The first plotline has former CIA mission specialist Wyman Ford headed to Cambodia to find the source of some new gems that have hit the international market. Fortunately, the gems are beautiful and unfortunately, they are radioactive. With the help of his Asian contacts and with some great adventure reading along the way, Ford finds the mine and the poor Cambodians forced to work there. They are dying rapidly of radiation poisoning. Wyman is an explosive expert (aren't all CIA operatives?), and destroys the mine. As he heads back to Washington to debrief his mission, he figures out that the mine was not dug down from the surface, but that it is really an exit hole. What he cannot figure out is what passed through the earth and exited at this point.

The second plotline takes place in a small town in Maine with Abbey Stone. Abbey, an amateur astronomer, and her friend see a meteorite land and set out to find its landing spot. All they find is a hole.

The third plotline has a scientist from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena mysteriously murdered, but before he dies, he mails a classified hard drive to one of his associates. The hard drive contains data from a recent pass of an exploratory satellite. The associate analyzes the data on the drive and finds an irregular source of gamma rays emitting from one of Mars' moons. The data is barely above background noise and the associate is unable to convince his bosses and peers that the gamma ray source is real. He is fired for not following orders.

Abbey’s discovery and data analysis reaches Wyman Ford's attention and Ford employs Abbey to do more analysis for him. Unfortunately, an unknown assassin is trying to kill them. Somebody does not want the data released to the world, and is trying to catch Abbey, Ford, and the stolen hard drive. Ford and Abbey run for their lives and try to get the data to the space research authorities in Washington.

It is great to read. Everything ties together in a tight little ending, but I cannot spoil that in the review. I loved the story. It sits on the border of science fiction and thriller. It involves an extra-terrestrial gamma source, but the action takes place on earth. I found all the science plausible. I like it when a science fiction story takes current technology and expands on it a bit, without going too far beyond what the world currently believes is possible in our universe.

I received the “book” from SFRevu as an audio CD set. Audio books are wonderful as car books. I listen to them as I drive. As I frequently drive from my home Norfolk, VA to Washington, DC, my normal three-hour trip goes by so quickly, that I barely realize that I am driving. The recording is interesting. I love the speaker, Scott Sowers. One thing I noticed is that the disks just end and start over. Other audio books that I have “read” announce the end and beginning of the disks. It certainly does not affect the story, but as I am driving, I have to think, “Oh yeah, I have heard this already,” and then change the disk.

I highly recommended Impact on all levels. It is one of the best books I have “read” in a long time.

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