Hot Summer Read: 'The Burning Wire' by Tom Bower

Acclaimed novelist Jeffrey Deaver revisits his popular characters - quadriplegic forensics expert Lincoln Rhyme and his partner Amelia Sachs - in this intense new thriller. An unknown perpetrator hacks into Manhattan's electrical grid - the network of underground and overhead wires that powers the entire city - and sends a surge of energy that practically melts a city bus and the innocent victims on board. The clock is ticking as Rhyme and Sachs try to hunt down the attacker while he sends similar bolts of electricity to targets all over the city - no one knows where he'll strike next.

Read an excerpt of the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.

Chapter 1

SITTING IN THE control center of Algonquin Consolidated Power and Light's sprawling complex on the East River in Queens, New York, the morning supervisor frowned at the pulsing red words on his computer screen.

Critical failure.

Below them was frozen the exact time: 11:20:20:003 a.m.

He lowered his cardboard coffee cup, blue and white with stiff depic¬tions of Greek athletes on it, and sat up in his creaky swivel chair.

The power company control center employees sat in front of individ¬ual workstations, like air traffic controllers.

The large room was brightly lit and dominated by a massive flat-screen monitor, reporting on the flow of electricity throughout the power grid known as the Northeastern Inter¬connection, which provided electrical service in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. The architecture and decor of the control center were quite modern—if the year were 1960.

The supervisor squinted up at the board, which showed the juice arriving from generating plants around the country: steam turbines, reac¬tors and the hydroelectric dam at Niagara Falls. In one tiny portion of the spaghetti depicting these electrical lines, something was wrong. A red circle was flashing.

Critical failure . . .

"What's up?" the supervisor asked. A gray-haired man with a taut belly under his short-sleeved white shirt and thirty years' experience in the electricity business, he was mostly curious. While critical-incident indica-tor lights came on from time to time, actual critical incidents were very rare.

A young technician replied, "Says we have total breaker separation. MH-Twelve."

Dark, unmanned and grimy, Algonquin Consolidated Substation 12, located in Harlem—the "MH" for Manhattan—was a major area substa¬tion. It received 138,000 volts and fed the juice through transformers, which stepped it down to 10 percent of that level, divided it up and sent it on its way.

Additional words now popped onto the big screen, glowing red beneath the time and the stark report of the critical failure.

MH-12 offline

The supervisor typed on his computer, recalling the days when this work was done with radio and telephone and insulated switches, amid a smell of oil and brass and hot Bakelite. He read the dense, complicated scroll of text. He spoke softly, as if to himself, "The breakers opened? Why? The load's normal."

Another message appeared.

MH-12 offline. RR to affected service area from MH-17, MH-10, MH-13, NJ-18.

"We've got load rerouting," somebody called unnecessarily.

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