Tor, Aug 2003, 24.95, 336 pp.
The NYC Parks Commissioner reported that squirrels seem to have vanished from popular locales like Central Park, Prospect Park, and Van Cortlandt Park. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Jack Dugan, not willing to ignore anything since 9/11, assigns NYPD forensic detective Phil D'Amato to investigate. Phil interviews park workers who insist there is a dramatic drop in population without a rise in corpses. The cop also visits a few parks, but sees nothing out of the ordinary. He wonders if perhaps it is like the 1980s restaurant case involving cats as chicken.
However, Phil soon learns that serendipitous research into using squirrels and hamsters as recording devices is underway at labs across the country. He becomes concerned that if rodents can be used as recorders, can they also be used as terrorist bombs? Perhaps it is part of the post WTC syndrome, but a panicky Phil begins a search of the eastern seaboard in an attempt to insure squirrel-carrying bombardiers don't lead to WTC II.
THE PIXEL EYE is a frightening scenario as Paul Levinson makes a strong case that nothing is safe in a world in which personal values push a cause as more important than people are. The story line may sound satirical and inane, but is far from it as the audience will quickly become as convinced as the hero that this squirrely technology can happen. Though the characters except for Phil are never fully developed, readers will be extra careful before feeding the birds and other creatures as that animal might prove to be the one that bites the hand that feeds it.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner