Billionaire Palmer Lloyd is accustomed to getting what he wants--and what he wants for his new museum is the largest meteorite on earth. Unfortunately for Lloyd, it's buried on an inhospitable Chilean island just north of the Ice Limit in the most brutal, unforgiving seas in the world.
Fortunately for Lloyd, he knows people--people like Eli Glinn, the hyper-focused president of Effective Engineering Solutions, Inc.; Glinn's nonconformist, genius of a mathematician, Rachel Amira; and the uncannily able construction engineer, Manuel Garza. Lloyd's also tapped the brilliant but disgraced meteorite hunter, Sam McFarlane, and the exceptional supertanker captain, Sally Britton, whose career was unshipped by intemperance and a reef. Of course, such a team has a hefty price tag:
Lloyd's broad features narrowed. "And that is... "
"One hundred and fifty million dollars. Including chartering the transport vessel. FOB the Lloyd Museum."
Lloyd's face went pale. "My God. One hundred and fifty million... " His chin sank onto his hands. "For a ten-thousand-ton rock. That's... "
"Seven dollars and fifty cents a pound," said Glinn.
EES's plan is to obtain mining rights to the island, secure the allegiance of various Chilean functionaries via blinding sums of money, disguise a state-of- the-art supertanker as a decrepit ore rig, mine the rock, slip it into the ship, and zip back to New York to thunderous notoriety. Unforeseen, however, are a rogue Chilean naval captain, seas to make Sebastian Junger boot, and a blood-red meteorite of undetermined pedigree and a habit of discharging billions of volts of electricity for no apparent reason.
Like Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's earlier collaborations (Relic, Thunderhead, and others), The Ice Limit tools along swiftly, blending nicely drawn characters (excepting, regrettably, the book's true protagonist, the meteorite), a reasonably exciting narrative, and enough graspable science and plausible-seeming theories to bring readers happily up to speed and keep them climax-bound. Not the authors' best effort, certainly, but a fine diversion nonetheless. --Michael Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
The summer-beach reader has few better friends than Preston and Child, who, beginning with Relic (1995), have produced one (generally) smart and suspenseful thriller after another, most recently Thunderhead. Their new novelDwhich, like its predecessors, skirts the edge of science fictionDis their most expertly executed (though not most imaginative) entertainment yet. Its concept is high and simple: a scientific expedition plans to dig out and transport to New York harbor the mother of all meteorites from its resting spot on an icy island offshore Chile. The mission is nearly impossible: not only will the meteorite be the heaviest object ever moved by humanity, but the Chileans, if they learn of the mission, may decimate it in order to keep the meteorite. Six strong if broadly drawn characters propel the premise into action. There's bullheaded billionaire Palmer Lloyd, who funds the expedition, and three (of the many) people he hires to get the rock: world-class meteorite-hunter Sam McFarlane, disgraced for his obsession about possible interstellar meteorites; Captain Britton, disgraced alcoholic skipper hired to ferry the meteorite to the U.S.; and Eli Glinn, cold-blooded mastermind of an engineering firm dedicated to getting incredible jobs doneDthis one at the price of $300 million. There's Commandante Vallenar, a Chilean naval officer exiled to his nation's southern wastes, who will stop at nothing to defend Chile's honor and property. Finally, there's the meteoriteDblood red, impossibly dense, possessed of strange and dangerous properties. Like the premise, the plot is simple, traversing a near-linear narrative that sustains serious tension as the expedition travels to Chile, digs out the meteorite and heads homewardDonly to face both Vallenar and a ferocious storm. What the novel lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in athleticism: this is a big-boned thriller, one that will make a terrific summer movie as well as a memorable hot-day read. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.