Patricia Cornwell
Tomas & Mercer 2019
ISBN:13: 9781542094061

Patricia Cornwell, author of the popular thriller series, “Scarpetta,” now offers the first edition of her new series, “Quantum.” Her hero-character is Calli Chase, a NASA officer and a quantum physicist. While awaiting to hear the outcome of her interview to become an astronaut, she works as a cybersecurity investigator at Langley Research Center.  

Chase is one of a handful of people involved in a high-level secret mission to install a quantum node on a rocket bound for the International Space Station. Liftoff is less than ten hours away when Chase is alerted by an airlock motion sensor that someone, or thing, has entered NASA’s 100-year-old tunnel that links two highly secure above-ground buildings.

Chase goes on high alert when she discovers dried blood in the tunnel. Shortly thereafter, she learns the NASA private contractor who earlier reported her clearance ID missing is now dead. In the meantime, Calli’s twin sister, Carne, a fighter pilot, has disappeared and might be involved in sabotaging the rocket launch. 

As the countdown continues, suspense grows. Meanwhile, the government is shut down, which means only NASA’s critical employees will be available for the launch, and there is also a blinding blizzard. Chase knows this is an ideal time for terrorists to sabotage NASA’s plan.

One doesn’t have to suspend reality when it comes to the likelihood NASA would develop a quantum node and have plans to install such a  monitoring device in space. But what is hard to swallow is Cornwell’s superhero. As the suspense grows, Calli is on the phone to NASA space center: “We got any idea how both strings of S-band plus both strings of Ku-band comms could have been knocked out,” she says, while driving through the snowstorm. 

This novel follows the formula of most superhero adventures. Calli does all the chasing, climbing and saving the day, solo. But since it’s the first of a series, this novel mainly focuses on backstory and character development. The ending remains as big of a mystery as the beginning so if you are intrigued with a thriller series with plenty of action, keep on reading; if not, it’s a time-waster.