When the new novel, 'Specific Impulse', by Charles Justiz, landed on my desk, my first impression was, "Is this one going to be a Tom Clancy clone?" For the record, I don't read Clancy's books. His military 'techno blab' is beyond me, and there isn't enough warmth to sustain my reading pleasure.
Nevertheless, I opened Mr. Justiz' book and had a happy surprise: I actually enjoyed it!
The story is a marvel; part military, part science, part government conspiracy, but mostly thrilling. Although I was a bit confused by some of the scientific information (face it, not all of us are rocket scientists), none of it took away from this roller-coaster ride of a story. Mr. Justiz has a great gift of bringing his characters to life; the two protagonists are very real, full of great human compassion, intelligence, and humor.
But what truly impressed me about this story is the fact that a woman is portrayed as a person who can handle her own life, who is extremely intelligent, and knows just what she wants. She does not exhibit 'girly' behavior; no 'dumbing down', no flirtation. First and foremost, scientist Carin Gonzales is a human being. Gender rarely comes into play, and I thank the author for that.
Her partner in this exciting tale is Jake Sabio, a former submarine commander. They meet in the most alarming way: While separately visiting the Barringer Meteor Crater, an explosion brings them together, and transforms them in inexplicable ways. But along the way, they are targeted by not only a mysterious assassin, but also by Special Agent Will Greenfield, who demands answers.
Jake and Carin are constantly on the run, outwitting and outrunning every threat to their existence. Along the way, they are assisted by machine intelligence, which they have named FRED.
Full of twists-and-turns, this story was near-impossible to put down. Science Fiction and Thriller join forces to mesmerize any reader hungry for a thrilling read. The ending begs for a sequel.
And I'll be excited to read it.
Note: Writer/director, visual effects creator and award winning comic book creator Kevin VanHook has signed to write the screenplay for sci-fi thriller Specific Impulse, the first of a science-based trilogy written by retired NASA pilot Charles Justiz.