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by James Lilliefors
Soho Crime, March 2013
336 pages
ISBN: 1616952490

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Has the weather seemed strange to you lately? Have you wondered if nature was out of control and if the predicted climate changes were happening too soon and too violently? A storm like Sandy in the fall of 2012 was not supposed to happen, not supposed to cause such widespread death and destruction. We often calm ourselves with the understanding that the weather is out of our direct control--but what if it weren’t? What if scientists had developed technology that could not only calm a storm, but also actually create it? And what if the people who were working to do this had other than altruistic motives?

This frightening premise informs James Lilliefors latest thriller THE LEVIATHAN EFFECT. From beginning to end, the book fills the reader with anxiety and foreboding. It is the same feeling that you get when the wind picks up, the rain lashes your windows—and then the lights flicker. What will happen next? Will a tree fall on my house? Will the power go off and the waters rise? Will I survive? Catastrophic weather events are occurring all over the world, and now our seat of government is threatened. The emails of the President and his cabinet have been hacked into and an assassin is stalking an unknown number of people. This is not a book you can put down.

Thankfully, the author has given us a pair of investigators with the ability to link disparate leads and figure out where they are pointing. Charles Mallory is an ex-CIA agent who thought he was retired from his past life. However, he is drawn back into the fray by his brother Jon, an investigative reporter who is trying to make sense of a series of unrelated deaths happening over a number of years. Cate Blaine, Secretary of Homeland Security, has just been made aware of a secret threat with which the President and other cabinet members have been dealing. Emails they have gotten lead them to believe that someone is causing the deadly weather occurrences and that the United States may be the next target. We become intimately involved in watching the formation of a monster storm that is aiming for Washington D.C. Blaine does not like the way that the situation is being handled, and she too reaches out to Charles Mallory.

What this author does so well is create believable and suspenseful scenarios, based on what we know about the real world and real possibilities. What he does not do quite so well is character creation. We believe that the Mallory brothers can make all the connections they need to, kill the bad guys, rescue the girl, and be okay. But they are more or less one-dimensional heroes. The bad guys are also less than convincing, in terms of even basic motivation. But in the end this does not matter. Because the description of events is so engrossing, we really do not care that the characters themselves are not well drawn. Lilliefors describes the moment by moment experience of people caught in the arms of these weather events, like the terror of a woman in France somehow the lone survivor of a triad of tornadoes or the dawning horror of a ship’s captain as his vessel is drawn into a storm that is a huge, living creature.

The Mallory brothers appeared in the author’s previous work, VIRAL, and it is possible that we will meet them again. Let us hope that Lilliefors will put them into another plausible and heart-thumping plot, another thriller which--to use the old cliché--I will not be able to put down. Now only one more question—Have you heard the latest weather forecast?

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, March 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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