Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pg. 99: Kyle Mills' "Darkness Falls"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Darkness Falls by Kyle Mills.

About the book, from the author's website:
Erin Neal has been living a secluded life in the Arizona desert since the death of his girlfriend and he isn't happy when an oil company executive appears on his doorstep. A number of important Saudi oil wells have stopped producing and Erin is the world's foremost expert in analyzing and preventing oil field disasters.

As far as he's concerned, though, he left that world behind long ago–not his problem. Unfortunately, Homeland Security sees things differently. Erin quickly finds himself stuck in the Saudi desert studying a new bacteria with a voracious appetite for oil and an uncanny ability to corrode drilling equipment. Worst of all is its ability to spread.

It soon becomes clear that if this contagion isn't stopped, it will infiltrate the planet's petroleum reserves and cut the industrial world off from the energy that provides the heat, food, and transportation necessary for survival. As the scale of the coming disaster continues to grow, Erin realizes that there's something eerily familiar about this bacteria. And that it couldn't possibly have evolved on its own…
Among the praise for Darkness Falls:
"Masterful thriller writer Mills returns to his series hero, former FBI agent Mark Beamon (last seen in 2002's Sphere of Influence), with a pulse-pounding apocalyptic scenario that is terrifying in its plausibility. Maverick environmentalist Erin Neal has become a pariah after his provocative book angered both conservationists and conservatives, and a recluse after the death of his ex-lover, eco-terrorist Jenna Kalin. His solitude is interrupted when Beamon, now the head of energy security for the U.S. government, tracks him down to stop a disaster: the destruction of the world's major oilfields by bioengineered bacteria remarkably similar to ones Neal himself considered designing. The bioweapons have already infected the major Saudi sources of oil, and the impact on the U.S. economy makes the identification of the terrorists and a plan to stem the spread of their microorganisms the national priority. While such plots are a dime a dozen, Mills's meticulous research, pacing and carefully developed characters make this variation particularly convincing."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Erin Neal, acknowledged expert on analyzing and preventing oil-field disasters, has recused himself from a world that rejected his advice on runaway energy consumption. Isolation in the Arizona desert also allows him the dubious privilege of self-pity. But now someone has mutated his controllable oil-eating bacteria, which were used to clean up spills, and infested the world's primary oil fields. Former FBI agent Mark Beamon, a well-paid, do-nothing official in Homeland Security, is directed to recruit Neal for damage assessment and development of an antidote. Neal participates under protest but provides a chilling prognosis: 30 percent of the world's oil is at risk, and the possible development of an airborne strain of the bacteria would send the planet back to subsistence farming. Mills, the standard-bearer for doomsday thrillers, offers another entry that is as disturbing as it is entertaining. His villains are ecologists whose initial idealism has morphed into destructive zealotry, and his heroes are as flawed as they are convincing: Beamon, who's been featured in other Mills thrillers, is a seen-it-all character who hasn't seen anything like this, and Neal is a bitter, lonely, perpetually grieving scientist, a nearly broken man trying to summon one last burst of strength. Mills has done it again: another up-all-night read (with nightmares to follow)."
Booklist (starred review)

"Mills has a knack for creating plausible save-the-world scenarios…"
Entertainment Weekly, B+

"Darkness Falls keeps readers’ hearts pounding until the final pages and beyond. Mills writes with knowledge and authority, and while the novel is a work of fiction, it leaves you uneasy about the possibilities of its premise."
Mystery Scene Magazine

"A fast-paced, heady thriller with a Doomsday scenario straight off today's front pages."
—Andrew Gross, New York Times best-selling author The Blue Zone & The Dark Tide

"Kyle Mills is a master of the page-turner…he will keep you reading well into the night."
—Vince Flynn, author of Memorial Day
Read excerpts from Darkness Falls and learn more about the author and his work at the blog and official website of Kyle Mills.

Mills is the New York Times bestselling author of nine books, including his award-winning The Second Horseman.

The Page 99 Test: Darkness Falls.

--Marshal Zeringue