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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Darkness Falls

Oil production has become a common target of terrorists who see shutting it down or holding it hostage as a means of influencing world politics. Western economies cannot survive without a steady flow of crude oil, a product that to a larger and larger degree is produced in countries not exactly friendly to Western ideas and influences. Oil companies have come to be cast as villains on the world stage and have also attracted a new breed of terrorist, environmentalist extremists, in addition to the more familiar brand of terrorism suffered at the hands of Islamist extremists. Thus is the stage set for the latest thriller from Kyle Mills, Darkness Falls.

When new bacteria surprisingly appear in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, bacteria with a voracious appetite for oil and the drilling equipment used to produce it, Erin Neal, a retired expert in the prevention and control of oil field disasters, finds himself there at the not so subtle request of Homeland Security. As one oil well after the other stops producing, it becomes apparent that the bacteria have the ability to spread from one well to the next and could permanently kill oil production from the biggest producing field in the world. Thirty percent of the world’s production is seen to be at immediate risk, something that could destabilize international politics to the point of causing open warfare and countless deaths.

Erin Neal is devastated to find that his own research into the design of oil-eating bacteria to be used in oil spill cleanup may have been adapted by his former girlfriend and fellow scientist to develop similar bacteria capable of destroying oil still in underground reservoirs. Neal, who had been driven to living in seclusion by the woman’s apparent drowning, begins to suspect not only that she may still be alive but that she could be involved with people who are willing to protect the environment at the cost of millions of lives.

Working with Homeland Security and within the highest levels of government, Neal finds himself in a desperate race to catch those responsible for spreading the bacteria before the world’s entire oil supply is destroyed. As they come to realize that losing oil means losing the power necessary to produce and transport food supplies, to generate heating and cooling for billions, and to fuel the economy and military, Neal and his team understand that only they can prevent the ultimate loss of millions of lives. If they fail, mankind will be reduced to a standard of living not seen for hundreds of years.

Kyle Mills has written a first rate thriller, a nightmarish reminder that our way of life is almost completely dependent on a natural resource that is less and less found within our own borders. Love them or hate them, it is clear that this way of life is dependent on the success that oil companies have in replacing oil reserves for at least the next several decades.

If you don’t believe me, read Darkness Falls.

Rated at: 4.0

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