If you have read Robert Sawyer’s Flash Forward, the book on which this year’s television series is based, you know that strange things can happen when scientists use super colliders to try to replicate the beginnings of the universe. In Patrick Lee’s first novel the man-made “big bang” provides a different surprise: a hole in the fabric of space creates a tunnel to another dimension, and whatever is on the other side is sending us strange gifts, some of them beneficial, some of them not so nice at all.
The Breach, the first in a series of novels starring ex-con/ex-cop Travis Chase, should please X-Files and Fringe fans, as Chase teams up with the tough and beautiful Paige Campbell to try to save the world from a nefarious human villain controlled by an other-worldly power.
The action starts in the Alaskan wilderness where Chase, newly released from a 15-year prison sentence hikes alone, trying to come to grips with what to do with the rest of his life. A few hours after he hears a thunderous noise coming from a clear sky, he finds a crashed 747 in the middle of nowhere. When he examines the wreakage, he finds systematically executed bodies, including the first lady of the United States. But the first lady lasted long enough to leave a cryptic message that leads Travis to the killers who are torturing the two survivors of the devastation and the discovery of a strange glowing blue ball, which affects Travis in strange ways.
Our hero is too late to save the old man, but, at the nick of time, Chase does some quick shooting of his own and saves Paige, a covert operative, from the excruciating pain her sadistic captor is inflicting. Travis, who must have kept in shape in prison, carries Paige for several miles through the snow to the nearest town, where he is rewarded for his heroism by being shackled, hooded and flown to an equally desolate outpost in Wyoming.
There Travis and the reader begin to learn about the Breach of the title; a secret organization called Tangent set up to protect humanity from the powers the Breach is unleashing; and the immediate threat from the shimmering blue ball.
The next few days will decide the fate of the world as Travis becomes a combination of Jack Bauer and John Rambo, and the bodies begin to pile-up (literally). And, of course, Travis and Paige discover that there is always time for a little romance, even when the fate of the world is on the line.
Despite being a bit derivitive, The Breach is a lightening-fast read. It kept me up far past my bedtime for two nights in a row. If you like a body count that far exceeds the number of pages and just the right amount of weirdness, you are in luck: Travis Chase will be back in the fall with Ghost Country, and, with luck, the series will continue.
Mark Graham reviewed books for the Rocky Mountain News from 1977 until the paper closed its doors in February 2009. His “Unreal Worlds” column on science fiction and fantasy appeared regularly in the paper since 1988. He has reviewed well over 1,000 genre books. If you see a Rocky Mountain News blurb on a book, it is likely from a review or interview he wrote. Graham also created and taught Unreal Literature, a high school science fiction class, for nearly 30 years in the Jefferson County Colorado public schools.