Like millions of people around the world, Jeremy Logan (famed enigmalogist, or investigator of unexplained things) has grown to rely on his incredible new tech device. Made by Chrysalis, the global multibillion dollar tech company, the small optical device connects people in a stunning new way, tapping into virtual reality for the first time on a wide scale.
And yet, when Logan is summoned by Chrysalis to investigate a disturbing anomaly in the massive new product rollout, Logan is shocked to see the true scope of the massive company. He also quickly realizes that something in Chrysalis’s technology is very wrong, and could be potentially devastating. The question is what, and where, is the danger coming from? In Lincoln Child’s wildly inventive new novel, high tech comes to life alongside the myriad dangers it poses, making for one of Child’s most infectious, entertaining thrillers to date.
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About the Author
Place of Birth:Westport, Connecticut
Education:B.A., Carleton College, 1979
Read an Excerpt
Randall Pike crouched in his tent, disassembling his surveying gear—transit theodolite and retroreflector—and thrusting the delicate equipment into foam-fitted cases. He’d spent almost every waking minute of the last two weeks with them, knew every plummet and reticle as well as if it was family: but here he was, manhandling everything.
“Randy!” the feminine voice floated in from outside. “The chopper will be here in five minutes.”
“I know!” he called back, louder than necessary. Then, modulating his voice: “I’ll be ready.”
He should have expected this: he was annoyed. As always on the last day of each annual pilgrimage to the Kalimatsu Glacier.
He rolled up his North Face bag with practiced twists, then stuffed it into its sack and pulled the lanyard tight. He glanced around. Backpack, scientific gear, laptop, notebook, toilet kit—everything was ready. The ice core equipment was lashed together. All that remained was to break down the tent, and he could do that in sixty seconds. He pushed all the gear out ahead of him, then ducked through into the open air.
Even though he’d been inside the tent only a quarter of an hour, the dazzling glare of the glacier temporarily blinded him. As the glare faded he could make out his lone companion, Wing Kaupei, standing outside her own setup thirty yards away. Her gear, of course, was already stowed in a neat pile, with just a few items sitting off to one side.
Five minutes. He took a deep breath of the frigid air and slowly turned, boots crunching in the hard-packed snow, to take one final look around before they departed. As always, the rugged beauty of the place, so majestic in its solitude, was overwhelming. His annoyance drained away, replaced by awe. To the north, the peaks of the Alaska Range glittered like diamonds in the arctic sun, Denali rising like a king among princes. The white blanket of glacier ran away from it, the smooth surface becoming rougher as it approached the accumulation zone. There was no sound save for a faint whisper of wind. The closest human habitation was forty miles away, the closest city an hour by chopper. Anchorage. In an hour, he’d be there. And then, twenty-four hours later, back in New England.
“Want me to take a picture?” Wing asked as she checked her gear. “You know how lousy you are with selfies.”
“No. Thanks, though.” It was a thoughtful gesture, but a photo was the last thing he wanted. He had little interest in remembering how this place looked today. Because he knew when he returned next year, the view would have changed—and not for the better.
In the decade he’d been coming to this spot, the Kalimatsu had shrunk in dramatic fashion, the ablation zone around his drill site contracting fourteen inches in the last twelve months alone. Over ten years, its surface had fallen a total of six linear feet. The glacier was aging prematurely, advancing with the speed of some frantic silent comedy. Every day, icebergs the size of skyscrapers were calving into the ocean as their terminus grew increasingly unstable. As the snowpack receded, curiosities now and then had begun appearing out of the ice: ancient seeds, nuts, buried for countless millennia, seeing sun again well before their intended time.
This—ironically—was a benefit of the receding glacier: the natural, ancient treasures buried within it. Two years back, a wooly mammoth had emerged from the Siberian melt—that, along with the more recent find that accounted for Wing’s presence this year. The ground he stood on had once been jungle. Eventually that jungle, too, would once again emerge into the sun. Pike smiled mirthlessly. By then, of course, global warming would have raised the sea level sixty feet—and mankind would have other things on its mind besides geologic research.
This was the first year he’d actually felt the glacier moving. As he lay in bed at night, tapping readings and measurements into his tablet, he could feel the Kalimatsu groaning beneath him like a living thing. Since they’d arrived, a large crevasse—fifty feet long, its knife-edged depths unguessable—had opened with a shattering crack, just yards from Wing’s tent. Pike had quickly offered to help move her to a safer location, but she’d refused with the same quiet, philosophical manner in which she seemed to approach everything. She hadn’t explained, but he thought he understood anyway: Wing believed one’s fate had long ago been determined, and there was nothing we could do to change it.
He glanced again at Wing. He really hadn’t gotten to know her well over the last two weeks—she’d been busy cataloging and running tests on the ice cores he’d brought up—but she had proved a decent companion. She seemed to share his grief at how the Kalimatsu Glacier was dying around them, although it was clear she was more interested in his discovery the previous year . . . and in his theories about it. He’d probably talked more about those than he should: after all, she was practically management. But it was lonely up here, and Wing was a good listener. Besides, at the end of the day they were both on the same team.
He walked toward her, heaving a sigh as he navigated around the crevasse. This annoyance bubbled up every time he left the glacier. Within a week or two, he’d forget all about it as he busied himself with sample data. If he was honest, it had become a kind of hypocritical gesture, easing his guilt about not feeling enough guilt. Because the discoveries made possible by this retreating glacier were now a primary focus: measuring melt and shrinkage wasalmost passé.
And those discoveries had proved more promising than he’d ever hoped.
There it was: something that would make him feel better. He pulled his tablet out of a pocket of his parka, connected it to thesat phone, and sent a brief message. It was Carewell protocol to maintain radio silence during an expedition—one never knew what academic competitor might find a way to listen in—but the expedition was done now, and he could at least send a thumbs-up to the Complex without going into detail.
Wing was stuffing the last few of her items into a canvas carryall. “Listen,” he began as he walked toward her, “I just wanted to thank you—”Then he frowned. “Are those core samples?”
She turned suddenly, fingers rising to stroke a small mole, situated in the perfect center of her throat. It was an unconscious gesture he’d seen before: clearly, she hadn’t heard him approach overthe soft snow.
“Yup,” she said after a brief pause. She put the last of half adozen frosted tubes into the carryall, then zipped it up briskly andstowed it with the rest of her gear. Odd that he hadn’t seen herwith them before.
“I didn’t realize your work involved taking full cores, too,” he said. “I assumed it was minimally invasive.”
“That just shows how unobservant you are,” Wing said with a giggle. “You’re always so busy fussing over your equipment, it’s like you’ve been wrapped in your own private world the last two weeks.”
Pike shook his head ruefully. “You’re right. I suppose I’ve been a terrible companion.”
Wing waved this away, leaning on an ice ax for support. Then she cocked her head, listening. Pike could hear it, too: the drone of a chopper, distant but growing closer.
“Look at you,” she said with mock reproach. “Our ticket out of here is arriving, and you’re on your tablet instead of packing away your tent. Come on, I’ll give you a hand.” And she began making her way over to Pike’s tent.
Pike, embarrassed, hurried to get ahead of her.
“Did you send back a report?” she asked. “Prematurely?”
“Just to pass on the good news.” The helicopter was still a few minutes away; that would give them time to—
“Naughty boy,” Wing said from behind him.
Suddenly, he heard a grunt of effort, followed by a sharp, deep pain between his shoulder blades. He looked around in shock and saw Wing standing a foot away, ice ax raised, its sharp edge glistening crimson.
She brought the ax down again, this time splitting his breastbone, and Pike cried out as the pain exploded. He fell backward, feet and hands windmilling. Wing, a strange, determined look on her face, was prodding him farther backward with the ax. As she did so, she glanced around at her feet. Despite his agony and vast surprise, Pike realized she was checking for bloodstains.
And then suddenly he was falling: limbs flailing helplessly as he hurtled into the fresh crevasse that had opened near Wing’s tent. Above he could see a crack of receding blue sky, and—briefly—Wing’s booted foot, kicking the phone and tablet into the fissure after him.
It seemed that he fell forever, crying out as he went. And then he caromed off an ice wall with such force it crushed his ribs and took his breath and voice away forever. But as he fell farther still, the white of the ice turning to blue and then to black, he could still hear the faint sounds of the chopper and what sounded like Wing’s voice, calling out desperately for help.