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China Lake: An Evan Delaney Novel    by Meg Gardiner order for
China Lake
by Meg Gardiner
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2008 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

China Lake pits SF author/legal researcher/journalist Evan Delaney and her significant other, paraplegic (since a hit-and-run accident two years before) lawyer Jesse Blackburn against a fanatical religious cult, the Remnant, whose leaders are busy stockpiling weapons of serious destruction, anticipating the last days in the near future.

The Remnant is led by charismatic Peter Wyoming - whose presence hit people 'like a rock fired from a slingshot' - and his pebble-eyed wife Chenille Krystall. Evan discovers that her sister-in-law Tabitha has joined the cult, after leaving her naval jet pilot husband Brian and six-year-old son Luke. Luke has been living with Evan - nestling his way into both her and Jesse's hearts - for eight months since Brian was deployed overseas. Now, Brian is back at the China Lake military base, where Luke will soon join him.

The puzzle begins with the seemingly accidental death of cosmetic surgeon Neil Jorgenson, after he showed up, ranting and raving like a madman, at a Remnant service. Evan's home is vandalized, Remnant followers make several attempts to take Luke, and Evan's brother Brian is arrested for murder. Adding a touch of humor to an otherwise desperate situation, Fish and Game officers suspect Evan and Jesse of harboring ferrets - though these ferocious critters do have a key role to play in subsequent events.

As always in a Delaney thriller, events - and violence - accelerate to an explosive finish, seeded with surprises. Though the plot takes in bioterrorism, theft of military weapons, a museum heist, and a forest fire, it's essentially 'an old story. Avarice, fear, ambition, and jealousy have always made a murderous combination. Read the Bible. It's full of the stuff.' Don't miss China Lake, a fast-paced thriller punctuated by witty dialogue and starring a lively, gutsy heroine with attitude in spades.

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