The Void Protocol by F. Paul Wilson (SF/Thriller, January 2019).
This one’s the concluding novel of Wilson’s ICE Trilogy, which itself is a component of the massive Secret History of the World universe that makes up the majority of this award-winning, best-selling author’s writing. That said, each of the three books are perfectly readable separately. While the same two central characters (and several supporting figures) are involved and references to past events are referred to at times, each novel is complete unto itself.
Rick, a tough but principled former CIA agent dogged by memories of extreme violence his duty had forced upon him and Laura, his love interest/sometime investigative partner are again drawn into a strange and dangerous adventure by super-rich Clayton Stahlman’s fascination with weird, unexplained and top-secret mysteries.
This time, Stahlman is studying a seemingly random group of young people who, upon reaching puberty, have manifested a range of science fictional abilities. We’re talking stuff like teleportation, telekinesis and invisibility. What none of them know (but the reader is immediately aware of) is that these powers are connected to a secret government program dating back to one of the German scientists the US got hold of after WW II.
The program had a radically different goal and was dubbed a failure years ago. But now, the DIA agent who’d become the obsessed head of the thing knows about these emerging powers and is determined to get control of the young people, by any means necessary. He brings the deeply conflicted lead scientist of the program back into his orbit.
The rival groups collide violently. Rick and Laura’s on-again/off-again relationship is rekindled and tested when Rick is kidnapped by Agent Greve’s thugs along with several of the ‘special’ young people. Of course Laura and more of the mutated young adults eventually locate the baddie’s underground base and charge to the rescue. By then Rick has broken out of custody and is wreaking havoc at the base.
It all results in an epic set-piece of otherworldly mayhem as the not-of-this-Earth source of the special powers is fully revealed and becomes devastatingly active. The struggle for freedom, escape, some sort of justice and simple survival plays out to gripping effect.
Yes, Rich and Laura, many of the youngsters and even a few of the less-evil ones caught up in Greve’s schemes will survive. The end of the world as we know it is averted, at least for now. Like the previous volumes in the immediate trilogy (Panacea and The God Gene), The Void Protocol is a satisfying hunk of complex, thrilling SF and intrigue, with a bit of romance adding extra spice.
Darn good stuff, all around.