Taking a sliver of World War II history, cutting edge science in nanotechnology and biology, and a conspiracy of geopolitical consequences,
Spiral delivers a smart and tense techno-thriller.
Liam Connor, an Irish soldier who was a scientist during World War II, witnessed a horrific event in the Pacific Ocean, where the military took extreme measures to end a biological outbreak caused by the discovery of a lone Japanese sub whose crew died of mysterious reasons.
Sixty four years later, Connor, an accomplished professor at Cornell University, is found dead of an apparent suicide. Survived by his granddaughter Maggie, grandson Dylan and close colleague Jake Sterling, Liam leaves a series of clues, knowing something might happen to him. A brutal killer follows them, in search of what Liam knew of the incident in the Pacific. Meanwhile, Robert Dunne, a national security advisor hears of Connor’s death and immediately knows what his death is related to.
Spiral’s plot is well paced with a rising sense of tension. Seemingly random details tie in well throughout the book, and the interactions between characters and the characterization of the main characters is well done. Perhaps there isn’t nuance, but there is depth to Jake, Maggie and Robert and even a villain. McCuen isn’t afraid to kill off secondary characters in gory deaths, either, and surprisingly, the dialogue, for a debut novel in the thriller genre, flows well.
Underlying the plot, themes of political paranoia, xenophobia and the responsibility that comes with modern science come out.