|Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason|
|Ace Books, 304 pages|
|A review by Kim Fawcett
Soon a battery of clues convince Kreident that Dumenco's exposure isn't the only crime that has occurred at Fermilab. Experiments gone awry, a shooting, a poison gas attack, Dumenco's own refusal to discuss his previous work -- what's really going on? And more importantly, can Kreident discover the answers before more people die?
Anderson and Beason do a great job of depicting the day-to-day life and atmosphere of Fermilab, and deftly use the setting to throw all kinds of natural obstacles at Kreident and his partners. Of course, these obstacles could easily prevent Kreident from solving the mystery, so the authors force themselves into abusing coincidence to keep the investigation on the right path. How likely is it that Kreident and his partners always run into the bad guys in a place that's four miles in circumference? Once, maybe -- but every time?
While the Fermilab setting and Dumenco's research could easily go over the edge technically, Anderson and Beason manage to avoid letting technical details overshadow the story. There are no lectures on particles and the nature of the universe in Lethal Exposure -- the information you need is conveyed naturally through dialogue and a few well-placed descriptions. This is a welcome change from hard core SF books that end up reading like textbooks in the race to get readers up to speed.
Lethal Exposure's inevitable romantic subplot has Kreident working with both his old and current love interest at the same time. This triangle could have added some interesting twists to the book, but Anderson and Beason don't use it to advantage. The subplot seemed tacked-on, and ended up so weak it could easily have been omitted.
The biggest element lacking in Lethal Exposure, though, is subtlety. Clues are hammered home, knocking most of the who, what, when, where and why out of the mystery in the process. Partly to blame is the rapid switching of viewpoint, from hero to bystander to culprit. Granted, the different points of view make the story more interesting, but only at the cost of the element of surprise.
Overall, Lethal Exposure is fast paced and full of action, easily readable on its own although part of an ongoing series. Anderson and Beason deftly pass along bits of Kreident's history on a need-to-know basis. You never run into sections that beg the introduction "For those of you just joining our story..."
Lethal Exposure is more techno-thriller than science fiction, but if you've always wondered what a nuclear particle accelerator was like on the inside, or if you love FBI crime stories, this book might be for you. It certainly wasn't for me.
Kim Fawcett works, reads, writes, and occasionally sleeps in Ottawa, Canada. A day job writing for the hi-tech industry hinders her creative efforts, but has no effect at all on her book-a-week reading habit. She dreams of (a) winning the lottery, (b) publishing a novel, © travelling the world, and (d) doing all of the above all at once.
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