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Jocelyn "Joss" Cole, a burned-out public defender from L.A., has opted for a quieter life in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. Joss has no significant clients other than a group of commercial fisherman suffering from a strange and serious illness, a condition that doctors cannot diagnose, and which Joss believes has an industrial cause. Then into her office comes Dean Belden, a well-heeled client in search of a lawyer to help him set up a business in the islands. Within days Belden is subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury. Less than an hour after testifying, and before Joss can discover what happened in the secrecy of the grand jury room, Belden dies in a fiery explosion of his float plane on Seattle's Lake Union. Gideon Van Ry is a nuclear fission expert and a scholar in residence at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California. One of his duties is to update the Center's database, an extensive catalog listing fissionable materials and weapons of mass destruction. Gideon is troubled by the apparent failure to account for two small tactical nuclear devices missing from a storage facility in the former Soviet Union.The two weapons were last seen in packing crates, to be shipped to an American company called Belden Electronics. Gideon has been unable to locate this firm, and now he is left with only one possible lead, the lawyer who incorporated the company-Jocelyn Cole. Fraught with tension and suspense, Critical Mass is Steve Martini at his electrifying best. It is the story of what can happen in a world where private hate and public apathy combine to uncork the sleeping but deadly genie of nuclear terror.
sound of gunfire, single shots and short bursts, the echo of what sounded like machine gun rounds, some of it heavier. The corporal brought his M-16 up across his chest. An expression of concern suddenly crept across his face. “What is wrong?” said Gideon. The soldier was standing on an outcropping of rock closer to the edge of the bluff and looking down at something Gideon could not see. “I don’t like this. We’re silhouetted up here,” said the Marine. “If there’s anybody down there with a rifle,
one look at the stern expression on the agent’s face. “I think that perhaps this is not the time to stand on legal principle,” he told her. He tookjoselyn’s arm and gently gestured toward the van. “Where are they taking us?” “I don’t know.” “Well, I’m not going. Not until I get some answers.” “I think if you do not, they may put you in the van forcibly.” “Listen to the man,” said the agent. “I want to talk to somebody in authority,” saidjoselyn. “That’s where we’re taking you,” said the
older couple dressed to the nines looked at them wide-eyed, with more than a little disapproval. Gideon’s hair looked like smoke in a windstorm, and Joselyn was winded with a wild expression in her eyes. “That’s a good way to lose a hand;” said the man. “If that is all I lose tonight I will consider myself fortunate,” said Gideon. There was nothing else he could do in the elevator but wait. Gideon ran the fingers of one hand through his hair in a losing effort to make himself more presentable.
Mccally it sounded like the agent might want to join them. “Define violent,” he said. “Most serious is recreational explosives. Stealing a rifle from a National Guard armory’s the equivalent of earning your bones in the mob. They consider it big-time. We can usually pick them up in a local bar bragging about it. Not what you’d call a well-planned conspiracy.” What the government had learned in Oklahoma City is that intelligence against such groups is almost useless. The most dangerous among them
staffs had been tagged for the ANSIR group. “Is there anything else?” asked the president. He smiled. The last one he needed with his nose under this particular tent was the attorney general. He was already aware of the president’s false steps with Kolikoff, the acceptance of campaign money and the photos in front of his desk. Knowing Kolikoff, those pictures were probably already being used on labels to hustle some cheap brand of vodka in Moscow. Charness looked at the floor, then at his hands,