Ironically, the editors at Soho Press were in the midst of finishing up this thriller when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and forced them out of their office for over a week. This very real natural disaster puts a fine emphasis on just how truly frightening and plausible James Lilliefors’s latest novel, THE LEVIATHAN EFFECT, is.
This explosive book explores the premise of geopolitical terrorism by way of utilizing potentially devastating weather technology. When Homeland Security Secretary Catherine Blaine learns of a terrorist threat against the United States from an email by an internationally infamous hacker known as Janus, the novel is instantly thrust into a tumultuous event that will have readers gasping for breath before its conclusion.
"With THE LEVIATHAN EFFECT, [Lilliefors] has kicked it up several notches and created one of the best thrillers in years. Michael Crichton would be proud of how deftly he mixes science with suspense."
Janus has also emailed key members of the Presidential cabinet, and the gists of the messages are easy to decipher. Hurricane Alexander, a Category 5 storm, is headed towards the Eastern seaboard of the United States and could inevitably cost tens of thousands of lives. The people Janus is allegedly working for have created natural disasters in various parts of the globe to show their deadly intent. They want the U.S. to cooperate with them or else they will allow Alexander to do its worst on U.S. soil --- with Washington, D.C. as the point where it will make first landfall.
Blaine and other members of the Presidential cabinet, including President Aaron Lincoln Hall, all doubt the validity of Janus. However, the threat is too real to be taken lightly, so they sit back waiting for the demands that they know will soon follow. Blaine conducts her own investigation and enlists the aide of a former CIA agent, Charles Mallory. Charles and his investigative journalist brother, Jon, were the lead protagonists in Lilliefors’s previous novel, VIRAL.
The enemy reveals themselves to the President and his committee, and their spokesperson is Viktor Zorn. Zorn brings with him some top scientists and experts on weather technology and claims to represent a consortium of organizations and scientific minds that have the key to both creating these natural disasters and stopping them. They are willing to stop Hurricane Alexander but want five billion dollars as a down payment in addition to the President publicly announcing a partnership with Zorn and his partners.
Blaine and Mallory quickly uncover Zorn’s Russian background and the fact that the people he actually works for have been eliminating key scientists and meteorological experts who first discovered the aptly named Leviathan Effect that would allow for the creation of monster hurricanes that can be used as weapons of mass destruction. The President brings in his own expert, Dr. James Wu, who believes that the Zorn consortium will not be able to stop Alexander with their technology and warns of impending doom to the U.S.
The technologies in THE LEVIATHAN EFFECT are effectively real, and the revelation of what was created by the fictional Leviathan Project made that much more terrifying based on the many real-life disasters that have wreaked havoc on the planet over the past several years. VIRAL was a solid thriller with a taste of international espionage thrown in. With THE LEVIATHAN EFFECT, Lilliefors has kicked it up several notches and created one of the best thrillers in years. Michael Crichton would be proud of how deftly he mixes science with suspense. Additionally, Lilliefors clearly understands the topography and political landscape of Washington, D.C., obviously a result of his time spent writing for The Washington Post. This one is not to be missed!
Reviewed by Ray Palen on March 22, 2013