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Impact by Douglas Preston
Cover Artist: Getty Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Forge Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765317681
Date: 05 January 2010 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Three people from different parts of the globe have stumbled upon separate pieces of a puzzle that, when put together, could be the most startling discovery in the history of space exploration. Abbey Straw is an astronomy student who was kicked out of college and now works as a waitress in Damariscotta, Maine. On nearby Shark Island, she discovers a crater where a meteor entered the earth and continued traveling through it. On the opposite side of the globe, near the Tai-Cambodia border, ex-CIA agent Wyman Ford discovers the crater where the meteor exited the earth. From the crater, radioactive gems are being mined via slave labor. Mark Corso is a data analysis technician at the National Propulsion Facility (NPF) in Pasadena, California. While analyzing radar images made of Deimos - a moon orbiting Mars - he discovers an ancient, alien machine hidden within a crater. What is the connection between the meteor and the machine? Who has hired Harry Burr to kill Straw, Ford and Corso before they publicize their horrifying discoveries?

From the high-tech offices of NPF to the primitive jungles and ancient temples of Cambodia to the rocky, treacherous coast of Maine, Douglas Preston takes his fans on a science fiction adventure that is highly creative and highly suspenseful. Impact combines the scientific theories of black holes and strange matter with cloak and dagger activities involving espionage, theft, and assassination. This novel grips the reader from the very beginning when a meteor crashes somewhere off the coast of Maine. It continues at a fast pace as the main characters gather information that puts their lives in danger. Then the novel accelerates into high gear when the President and his cabinet realizes that our world is in danger of being destroyed. Who can prevent the impending disaster?

Impact will be appreciated by fans of numerous genres. It works especially well as an action adventure novel. My favorite scenes involve Ford when he is searching for the crater from which the radioactive gems are being mined. He is a type of Indiana Jones. Upon discovering the crater and witnessing the misery of the irradiated slaves, he is determined to destroy the mine rather than just photograph it. He fights numerous guards and risks death by slow torture. Ford is the type of person you can't help but admire. He later locates the beautiful, extremely intelligent African American waitress, Shaw, who also has a heart of gold; she loves her adoptive father and her best friend, Jackie, very much. Together, Ford and Shaw must stay one step ahead of the evil Burr who is hell bent on killing them. He is a professional hitman, in fact, several of the novel's characters, including a main one, become his victims. This led me to believe that no one was safe and anything could happen. Will Shaw and Ford live long enough to stop the approaching catastrophe?

I believe Impact has set the groundwork for a sequel that could be even better. Readers will understand when I say that the potential for doom still exists after the last page has been read. When dealing with unknown alien forces, the danger never entirely vanishes. I would greatly appreciate it if Douglas Preston would bring Ford and Shaw back in one or several more of his future novels. I admire those two characters. Readers are probably wishing or hoping they would fall in love and marry despite their difference in race and age. He is old enough to be her father. Nevertheless, they would make a great team when investigating extraterrestrial phenomenon.

Famous for his science fiction adventures, Douglas Preston has cowritten, along with Lincoln Child, the prestigious Pendergast series. FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast investigates bizarre murders that are linked to the supernatural and, in many cases, involve ancient artifacts. His first novel in the Pendergast series, Relic, was made into an intriguing monster film that is one of my favorites. Speaking of monsters, Preston has also cowritten, along with Italian journalist Mario Spezi, The Monster of Florence. It is based on the true life account of a vicious, Jack the Ripper like serial killer; he preyed on young couples who were involved in romantic trysts in the secluded areas outside of Florence. Tom Cruise will be producing, and perhaps starring in, a film adaptation of The Monster of Florence.

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