Critical Mass Author:Steve Martini Critical Mass by Steve Martini — Read by Jay O. Sanders — Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Abridged edition (September 1, 1998) — 4.5 hours — 4 cassettes — Book Description:The United States is fat and happy -- and on the eve of the deadliest act of mass terrorism in history. From the embers of Oklahoma City comes the specter of Critical Mass. — Joc... more »elyn Cole, a burned-out public defender from L.A., has opted for a quieter life in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. Jocelyn has no significant clients other than a group of commercial fisherman suffering from a strange and serious illness; a condition doctors cannot diagnose, which Jocelyn believes has an industrial cause. Then into her office comes Dean Belden, a well-heeled client in search of a lawyer to help him set up a business in the islands. Within days Belden is subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury. Before he can testify, and before Jocelyn can discover what happened in the secrecy of the grand jury room, Belden dies in the fiery explosion on his floatplane on Seattle's Lake Union.
Gideon Van Ry is a nuclear fission expert and a scholar in residence at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California. One of his duties is to update the Center's database, an extensive catalogue of fissionable materials and weapons of mass destruction. Gideon is troubled by the apparent failure in accounting for two small tactical nuclear devices missing from a storage facility in the former Soviet Union. The weapons were last seen in packing crates awaiting shipment to an American company, Belden Electronics. Gideon has been unable to locate this firm, and now he is left with only one possible lead, the lawyer who incorporated the company -- Jocelyn Cole.
Fraught with tension and suspense, Critical Mass is Steve Martini at his electrifying best.
When a handsome stranger walks into Joss Cole's one-woman law office on a sleepy island in Puget Sound and slaps down a hefty retainer to incorporate a fledgling electronics business, the burned-out ex-public defender has a hunch things aren't exactly as they seem. And when Dean Belden, this strange new client, comes back a few days later with a federal grand jury subpoena he swears he can't explain, she still doesn't tie it into the bizarre illness suffered by her other major clients, a group of commercial fishermen. Then Belden skips out on the feds and dies before her eyes in the fiery explosion of his float plane. Or does he? Within hours there are two attempts on Joss's life--clearly someone thinks she knows more than she's telling. Later, a nuclear fission expert shows up on the island tracking two missing tactical nuclear devices stolen from a Siberian storage facility, and the Geiger counter starts ticking. When Joss's fishermen start dying of what is clearly radioactive poisoning, the outlines of Belden's shadowy past get filled out in a tense thriller as topical as today's headlines. Steve Martini ties it all together with a fast-paced, well-plotted story of homegrown militia groups set up by America's enemies. He tosses in a hint of romance--just enough to show off Joss's vulnerable side without slowing down the action. Martini fans will swallow this one whole, while those who haven't discovered him yet can catch up with his several other thrillers on the paperback backlist, including Compelling Evidence, Prime Witness, and The Judge. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
A militia group in the Pacific Northwest becomes the world's newest nuclear power in this by-the-numbers thriller by the author of The List and The Judge. Lawyer Jocelyn "Joss" Cole sees a big retainer when she's hired by Dean Belden to handle his company's incorporation filings. But after Belden gets a federal subpoena, Joss sees him die in a fiery seaplane explosion. Now she's the only visible link to Belden's company (which was on the receiving end of two decaying nuclear weapons smuggled into the U.S. out of Russia), and that brings her to the attention of arms inspector Gideon van Ry, of the Institute Against Mass Destruction. After the feds determine that the militia has possession of the weapons, Gideon and Joss join the race to try to avert nuclear disaster. Of course, there are complications: the militia group is being fronted by a foreign power in order to circumvent U.S. nuclear retaliation policy, and the President is in CYA (cover-your-ass) overdrive because his party accepted a campaign contribution from the chief Russian culprit. But even with a SEAL assault on the militia stronghold, double crosses galore and an ingenious ending, the book offers too few surprises, too little suspense and too little emotional involvement. The characters have no inner life, and the plotting is sketchy from the start, when it's explained that dummies were used to cover up for the two missing nukes?dummies that conveniently drop off the weapons count while there's still time to foil the bad guys. The few crucial coincidences stick out like red flags because Martini makes more of them than he makes of the people around them.« less