Sometimes death comes when you least expect it and the source or reason remains an enigma or puzzle to those trying to come up with the cause. Within this novel we will visual and see the carnage and desecration of many people who died a painful and gruesome death at the hand of an unknown killer and substance that might remain unknown unless one man can uncover it. Dr. Damon Keane is a well known sleuth scientist who will stop at nothing to uncover and detect the truth about these deaths that no one else will or has the expertise to do. The Atlanta PD is stymied and stumped and when the Mayor of Atlanta requests the help of Dr. Damon Keane things will take on a new turn and the killer or the catalyst will hopefully be stopped. A death the causes the victim’s organs to shut down completely, one that forces the victim to give up everything in their stomach. Faces are bloated and distorted and some are even dismembered. The thought of what the crime scene photos show would sicken anyone even someone that is hardened to death. As the forensic expert and detective Keane realizes that he is up against someone unknown but when he comes across the first two deaths and then a priest is just seconds away from being third, the police are hospital officials have no clue but one is offered a startling revelation by the priest who worked with the dying Father Shannon: When you noted the color of his rosary beads they turned blood red. Just who is this phantom that seems to be eluding everyone? When he asks for the tox screen results and other lab work he thinks it might be some type of rat poisoning but it’s not. Is it alpha radiation or some type of gamma radiation but why doesn’t it come up in the results of the tests taken?
As Keane gets closer someone is blocking his way and creating obstacles that no one sees until something happens that changes it all. A source reveals something about the investigative officer and then the heat is on to find Felix Thornton the man behind the radiation attacks but even he does not escape from predators. Escaping the police, the security at the airport and winding up in Russia he thinks he is home free and wants to obtain certain radioactive materials that would set off a Geiger counter as soon as you come into the same room and not from a close distance. But, when dealing with these people he makes a fatal mistake and will he survive what he has done to others as Keane and his assistant work their way into the area where he was last scene hoping to escape undetected.
With Jessie Wiley at his side Keane just might find a way to stop what Thornton has started which is to eliminate as many people in Atlanta that are not white. He feels that anyone who is not white does not deserve to live in his air space or anyone else’s air space. With the help of a Russian named Osken, Thornton manages to obtain help to ship his radioactive canister undetected to a location in the United States but not before doing several things to make him no longer welcome in Osken’s family’s home. As Thornton takes out those that attacked him for trying to have his way with someone’s wife, things turn even more out of control as Keane tries to stop the death toll from rising as he travels to London’s Hyde Park, finds clues in Piedmont Park, in Siberia where there is a huge black market business in nuclear materials and the backwoods of Georgia. No matter how fast Keane travels or tries to catch up with this man he is always behind him. Thornton has a major terrorist attack planned and he will take down an entire city in a storm of nuclear death the magnitude of more than an earthquake of 10 on the Richter scale.
With the Detective on the case removed and with the help of Dr. Rutledge the team of Keane and Wiley might be able to stop what this person has set in motion. Hate for what someone took away from him. Revenge and retribution on those who killed someone close to him and now he would take down Atlanta. An African American who ran a newspaper stand, a retired dentist, who lived near Piedmont Park who was also black. A parish priest included the neighborhood on the west side of the park and a John Doe found in the middle of the park but this victim was white. Tremors, cranial nerve palsies, seizures and bouts of hallucinations and much more as this sick and diabolical killer keeps escaping. Suzanne Fowler works for the APD and has the ability for provide answers so what is she holding back? Detective Selsby is on the case but why is he discounting everything that Keane requests and explains? With the aid of Jessie and his personal security and valet and more Mr. J, can Keane outsmart someone so clever and dangerous before he too falls prey to what he has planned? A young child named Ronnie Davenport another victim hoping that he will pull threw. Police questioning him, gamma radiation at the helm and one man that will stop at nothing to take down Georgia and anyone that stands in his way. The author brilliantly includes research into the Chelyabinsk region of Russian where the hiding of the massive weapons operations from high-altitude American spy planes have been noted. He elaborates about the U2 flights with pilots like Francis Gary Powers and the entire chapter 29 explains it all. Added in we learn more about the radiation substances that Thornton wanted to buy and the end result Cesium 137. “ I kill because I hate. I kill again because it feels so good the first time and even better the next. And I ‘m not just another killer….I’ve been called to a higher duty. That raises me above the others.” Will he prevail or will Keane and Wiley plus a special team from Atlanta be able to race the clock and stop what he and someone else plan? The ending allows readers to know that this is not over and that someone is still out there that wants to destroy Keane and the little bit of happiness he might have just found. With his daughter finally responding to him and Andy, his son as a monk finally spending time will they live to return to school and the monastery? Only author James Marshall Smith knows for sure when he pens the next chapter in the life of Dr. Damon Keane. Using his expertise and experiences working for the CDC and serving or consulting on nuclear and radiological threats and countermeasures for the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and may other organizations, the author uses his knowledge giving readers a first hand view of nuclear and radiation warfare. An ending that is explosive and a story that could be ripped right out of the headlines. This is one thought provoking and excellent debut novel.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine