This story is about an airline pilot and and reporter whose paths cross on a transatlantic flight and their quest to find the truth about how millions of people around the world, including on their own flight, disappear with no warning and no trace. Captain Rayford Steele is piloting an international flight from Chicago to Paris, reflecting on his wife, who has become a born-again Christian, and Hattie, the head stewardess on his flight, with whom he has been considering having an affair. He steps out of the cockpit to find her and when he does, she is nearly hysterical that 100 people on the flight have suddenly vanished, leaving nothing but their clothes behind. Not one child is left on the flight. Steele rushes back to the cockpit and finds communications are nearly impossible, but finally gets through to another plane that tells him they lost 50 passengers, all east coast airports are closed, same with Europe and he better fly back to Chicago if he has the fuel. He does, and turns the jet around.
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A passenger on the plane, journalist Buck Williams, had just been in Israel when the entire Russian air force attacked. He watched as all of their planes were destroyed midair and crashed around Jerusalem without one civilian casualty. The rest of the planes simply disappeared. He hooks up his laptop to the modem on the plane's passenger phone and taps out his story, downloads his email and contacts his editor. When the plane lands, they find that millions of people have disappeared around the globe simultaneously and no one knows why. There is havoc, as people disappeared driving their cars, flying planes, driving trains and simply vanished in front of their families, all leaving nothing but their clothes and jewelery behind.
Steele tries to phone home but no one answers. He is worried because his wife has recently been discussing the Rapture, when God will call all of the saved Christians to Heaven. He was skeptical of her beliefs, but was beginning to wonder if she was right. He agrees to keep in touch with Hattie. Buck reaches his editor who orders his ace reporter to get back to New York at any expense, any way he can. In addition to this phenomenon, a man named Carpathian, from Romania, has suddenly gotten international attention out of nowhere. He is admired and associated with a man in Israel who developed fertilizer that makes deserts bloom, making Israel the most bountiful desert country in the world. The Israeli is heavily guarded and Israel will not share the formula. Buck has met him.
As the story progresses, Steele becomes more interested in the Rapture, and is more convinced when he finds his wife and son, who was like his mother, have disappeared. His daughter, more like himself, is still alive. The coincidence is not lost on him. Buck, following the story about the disappearances, is granted an exclusive interview with Carpathian, who has been embraced by the Israeli, and is made president of Romania after the president steps down. He also has been investigating powerful rich men and a secret organization that a friend in London has told him about. He goes to visit his friend and finds he has committed suicide, which Buck does not believe.
The rest of the story is what happens as Steele's faith grows.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked that throughout the book, the main characters were skeptical, questioning whether they were being foolish to believe or foolish not to.They stayed true to the way they were characterized in the beginning -- pragmatic, analytic and skeptical.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Buck was the only reporter invited to be present at the new configuration of the UN and that when he remained silent at a critical moment, he discovers the power of the man now in charge.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked that he continued in his analytical way to try to make sense of everything and gather all the information he could, but was willing to change when the answer became apparent.