Wyman Ford, the former CIA agent turned freelance investigator introduced in Blasphemy (2008), returns. This time the U.S. government sends him on a seemingly straightforward mission to locate a secret Cambodian mine, the source of some unusual gemstones. But Ford’s assignment quickly gets a lot more complicated, and soon he’s immersed in a mystery involving conspiracy, murder, and a strange object buried in a moon of Mars, an object that might be about to unleash something unimaginable upon Earth. Blasphemy felt almost claustrophobic at times (much of its action took place on a single set), but here the author opens up the stage, with plot threads unspooling in various countries and involving various supporting characters, who seem, at first, to have no connection to one another. Where Blasphemy tread on some controversial ground (the nature-of-God question), this book is a more traditional thriller, substituting adventure for philosophical exploration. Is it a better book or a worse one? Different readers may answer the question in different ways, but one thing’s for sure: once Preston kicks the story into high gear, they won’t put the book down until it’s finished.
This review originally appeared in Booklist, December 2009.