by Kent Lester
Publication date: April 2017
Category: Science thriller
Summary (from the publisher):
A seemingly random murder alerts scientist Dan Clifford to a global conspiracy that stretches from the halls of Washington to the Honduran coast. Illegal, undersea activities have unwittingly uncovered a primordial secret that is wreaking havoc on aquatic life and the local human population.
When the CDC and the full resources of a U.S. “threat interdiction” team fails to uncover the source of the devastation, Dan and a brilliant marine biologist, Rachel Sullivan, must race to unravel an unimaginable, ancient mystery in the murky depths. It’s up to them to stop this terror before a determined multi-national corporation triggers a worldwide extinction event, the Seventh Sun of ancient myth.
Kent Lester, author and fellow ThrillerFest attendee, told me a story about his debut science thriller novel The Seventh Sun. For a long time, his working title for the manuscript was The Seventh Plague, a title which certainly fits this page-turner that climaxes with the threat of an extinction-level epidemic.
Then James Rollins came out with his next Sigma Force novel. It was called The Seventh Plague. Clearly the underdog here, Lester changed his title but followed up with Rollins and ultimately got an endorsement from the New York Times #1 bestselling author.
Sharing a title isn’t the only thing Lester and Rollins have in common. Fans of Sigma Force will find a lot to like about The Seventh Sun.
The protagonist Dan Clifford is a level-headed scientist with a strong sense of ethics and a claustrophobic streak. Completely dedicated to his work (which has something to do with a massive detection and computer processing system that might predict earthquakes, among other things), Clifford doesn’t really want to stick his nose into the shady financial and political dealings of his corporate boss. But he does, scheduling a scuba diving trip to Honduras in order to visit the company’s manufacturing facility there. While diving, he finds a dead body. (In a book where the idea of “black swans” comes up repeatedly, this belief-shattering coincidence is perhaps a good example of such an unlikely event, but this reader was happy to forgive the coincidence as just one of those things you sometimes have to accept to make a good story unfold.)
Lester writes plenty of action and intrigue in a variety of arresting scenes that tickle the imagination. His settings include laboratories, rock climbing cliffs, scuba diving, boats of all kinds, deep-sea submersibles, medical facilities, a computer chip factory, a Congressional committee chamber, and more. (I don’t know if MOBIDIC, the Mobile Infectious Disease Interdiction Center is a real thing or not, but it totally should be!)
Of course I’m attracted to the science elements of the story. I’m pleased to say such elements are abundant, accessible, and accurate. How can I not love a novel in which the origin of eukaryotic life is a major plot point? Most impressive of all, in this book Lester successfully navigates what I call the “killer virus ending” problem. Plenty of plague thrillers release a deadly infection on the world, but few of them plausibly put the cat back into the bag. Lester manages this with technical sophistication and flair.
The Seventh Sun stumbles a little with actions that can’t quite be justified but are required by the plot, and an odd story structure which makes the book feel like two novels in one with a preliminary climax halfway through.
But these flaws are far from fatal. The Seventh Sun by Kent Lester successfully joins real science with action, exotic settings, and the threat of a global catastrophe. I enjoyed every page of this smart, fun thriller novel.
Support ScienceThrillers.com and the book’s author: Click to buy Seventh Sun from amazon.com
If you like The Seventh Sun, you might enjoy: Petroplague by Amy Rogers