Since 9/11, we live with the ever-present knowledge that there are terrorists plotting another attack. When? Where? How? Perhaps even more importantly, who? Will it be foreign extremists or home-grown jihadists? Or maybe neither. They hit major population centers in 2001. Since they don’t wish to become predictable, might they choose a rural setting? That may sound unlikely, but think again. If they can find the proper tools and devise the right scheme, why not a rural area? They can work in secret without being observed, and folks in the country have a habit of trusting. So, if the plan is ambitious enough, a ruinous catastrophe, even set off in the outskirts of small-town America, can make a spectacularly big bang. Literally.
"Far beyond your everyday thriller, ZERO DAY will scare you in more ways than you’d believe possible, if for no other reason than the plot is frighteningly realistic --- or, worse, way too plausible. It won’t just keep you up all night; it may well ruin your sleep forever."
John Puller of the Army Criminal Investigative Division knows this as well as anybody. He’s the best the CID has. So now, when he gets a call to look into the murder of an entire family in Drake, West Virginia --- a tiny town of a few thousand souls in coal country --- he senses that something is just not right. Not that murder is ever right, but this time he gets that prickly feeling that he isn’t being told everything he needs to know: “Every murder was the same in that someone was dead from a violent cause. Yet other than that factor, everything was always different. And solving it was like treating cancer. What worked in one case almost never worked in another.”
In this case, one of the victims was a military man with possible connections to sensitive information. So why is the CID only sending Puller to handle the investigation? That question nags at him, especially when faced with the gruesome scene: a mother, father and two teenagers slaughtered in their home in an otherwise peaceful little town.
With at least four dead, Puller desperately needs the cooperation of local law enforcement. And he mostly gets it. A few macho types seem to think he’s invading their territory, but Sgt. Samantha (Sam) Cole is as professional an officer as Puller could hope for. Her sense of honor, loyalty and patriotism easily matches his. Without her, he knows he has no chance of solving the case.
Puller and Sam are also aware that their time is limited. His superiors want frequent and confidential reports; their sense of urgency is controlled but obvious, and their sense of secrecy troubling. How much he can divulge to Sam without violating his orders remains tricky. The brass has precluded him from sharing information, yet his investigation makes it nearly impossible for him not to. He must determine who he can trust. In the end, he decides to go with his gut.
Far beyond your everyday thriller, ZERO DAY will scare you in more ways than you’d believe possible, if for no other reason than the plot is frighteningly realistic --- or, worse, way too plausible. It won’t just keep you up all night; it may well ruin your sleep forever. With his latest blockbuster, David Baldacci undoubtedly will win over thousands of new fans. Yes, he keeps getting better, but this time by leaps and bounds.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on November 3, 2011