Alex Cave is leisurely cruising his sailboat in Puget Sound when a hysterical voice on an oil tanker begs for help on the radio! He sees the behemoth ship through his binoculars an instant before it is engulfed in a brilliant flash of white light, and when he responds to the mayday and arrives before the Coast Guard, he discovers the crew and 80,000 tons of crude oil have mysteriously vanished without a trace!
Alex Cave is just a geophysics teacher for a university in the town of Bozeman, Montana, USA, but he is also ex-CIA. The Director of National Security, Martin Donner, is his friend, and asks him to help the Coast Guard in solving what starts out as a small problem of stolen crude oil.
Initial thoughts are of a major oil leak, but none is found. When the bodies of the crew are found frozen to death on a mountaintop 150 miles away, Alex realizes there is more going on than just stealing oil.
Things go from bad to worse as more tankers are attacked and their crews killed. The few witnesses all claim to see a bright light and a rainbow effect surrounding the tankers, but how did it happen? The Alaska pipeline and west coast refineries are suddenly empty! Transportation of basic necessities cannot reach the cities!
Alex teams up with the supervisor for the All Alaska oil Company in Valdez Alaska, a man affectionately known as Bull by his crew, and Christa Avery, a physicist working with oil samples from the Alaska pipeline. Together they try to discover why all the oil is disappearing, and the mastermind behind the theft and murders. The only clue the trio has is a strange crystal that was found in the hold of one of the empty oil tankers. Under closer inspection, it seems the crystal is alive.
Meanwhile, people in the northwestern states are trying to survive, which has now become the one rule. The AOS, Army of Survival, initially recruits people who wish to learn the skill of survival. Now that skill is becoming a fact of life, and the army starts keeping people against their wills, and training them to become soldiers. John Everex, the new leader, is a man on a mission. He rules without compassion and kills without mercy. As one would expect, Everex and Alex's paths cross, with dire consequences for one of them.
Harold Woolley is a meek man, with a demanding wife and two teen age children. He becomes caught up in the struggle to survive, and mistakenly ends up at the AOS camp. When his lack of courage threatens his family, he tries to become the brave man needed to get them out of their desperate situation, but after being a coward his entire life, he doesn't think he can change.
Dead Energy has many different characters, and many different parts of the basic story, which all come together in the conclusion.
Each episode has one common thread tying each story into a series, but each episode is a new story, and can stand alone.
©2014 James M. Corkill (P)2016 James M. Corkill
I received this book as a gift, after having first read the fourth book of the series. Reading them out of order didn't give me too many spoilers for my enjoyment of this initial installment.
As with the fourth book, Mr. Corkill's storytelling skills in Book One remind me again of the early works of Michael Crichton. The plot has layers that come together nicely to the climax toward the end, leaving me eager to get into Book Two. The sci-fi technology that is central to the plot is beautifully described and explained, while not bogging down the flow of the narrative. Overall, the story runs along as a techno-thriller, with the bit of mystery to tie up by the end. The main protagonist Alex is introduced with a deep and believable past which drives much of his present as a relatable modern man.
In the Audible narration, I really enjoyed Paul McSorley's voice-acting skills, and the country feel he delivered, which fit the rugged nature of much of this story. He brought the characters to life in a most enjoyable way.
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