Jove, Dec 2001, 6.99, 416 pp.
Jenny Richmond's father created, through a freak set of circumstances, a device called Merlin that when hooked up with artificial intelligence would make drivers of airplanes, cars, and boats obsolete. There was a small glitch in replicating the device so Jenny's father took it to the federal government who for a price was willing to spend billions to make the device operational.
When her dad was killed, Jenny was placed into protective custody but agents of the People's Republic of China raided her safe house. She eluded them and contacted private investigator Tim Carpenter. They retrieved her father's notes and Merlin before going on the run. The enemy agents were always one step behind them even tracking them down on a cruise ship where the ultimate cat and mouse game was being played out.
VORTEX ONE is the ultimate techno-thriller that clearly delineates the good guys from the bad agents. This is a very fast paced action packed novel so the characterizations are not as developed as much as they could be. Still, J.A Layton has written escapist work that is fun to read on wintry night.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner