The Bottom Line: A believable, fast-paced thriller about an imminent nuclear threat that is perfect for fans of Marc Greaney and Tom Clancy.
U.S. Department of Energy special agent Dr. Essie Openwaters is running out of time. Weapons grade plutonium stolen from the Department of Energy’s Savannah River site in South Carolina, and chatter from the National Security Agency has picked up a potential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack planned for Independence Day. In just ninety days, the world may face annihilation unless Openwaters can stop the attack.
Meanwhile, Mexican native Sergio García has billions invested in the stolen plutonium. He realizes his plan is cruel and will kill millions of U.S. citizens, but it could make Garcia’s data storage company the largest in the world, and in the process, make him the planet’s first trillionaire. Also involved is billionaire Tyrone Rettig, who has fled the U.S. to direct the operation from his lair in Caracas, Venezuela.
With 90 Days, author W. Michael Hewitt has created a textbook example of high concept fiction. The nuclear countdown, established early on, is gloriously uncomplicated and grabs attention from the get-go. Adding to the effect, Hewitt’s prose doesn’t contain an ounce of fat. Readers looking for complicated anti-heroes or family subplots should look elsewhere, as he wastes no time on anything that might slow the pace. But Hewitt, who holds degrees in nuclear engineering and chemical engineering and spent decades leading companies responsible for the management of nuclear waste, bedazzles the story with believable details throughout. Scenes written inside government facilities resonate with the authority of one who has been there.
In Rettig, Hewitt does an especially good job in creating a multidimensional character without unnecessary fluff. Using observational, in-the-moment storytelling, Hewitt illustrates how a true psychopath (brace yourself for his rebar fetish) might actually have complex feelings about where such a weapon might be used. 90 Days can be enjoyed as a stand alone, but because Hewitt does not devote much real estate to backstory, readers are encouraged to read Hewitt’s prior books. Background information on Openwaters, including her heritage and career trajectory, are explained elsewhere.