The Hammer of Eden

( 28 )

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
The FBI doesn’t believe it. The Governor wants the problem to disappear. But agent Judy Maddox knows the threat is real: An extreme group of eco-terrorists has the means and the know-how to set off a massive earthquake of epic proportions. For California, time is running out.
 
Now Maddox is scrambling to hunt down a petty criminal turned...

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
The FBI doesn’t believe it. The Governor wants the problem to disappear. But agent Judy Maddox knows the threat is real: An extreme group of eco-terrorists has the means and the know-how to set off a massive earthquake of epic proportions. For California, time is running out.
 
Now Maddox is scrambling to hunt down a petty criminal turned cult leader turned homicidal mastermind. Because she knows that the dying has already begun. And things will only get worse when the earth violently shifts, bolts, and shakes down to its very core.
 
Praise for The Hammer of Eden
 
“Follett ratchets up the Richter scale of suspense.”USA Today
 
“Peerless pacing and character development . . . The Hammer of Eden will nail readers to their seats.”People (A Page-Turner of the Week)
 
“The thrills hit unnervingly close to home in Follett’s latest white-knuckler.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Riveting . . . taut plotting, tense action, skillful writing, and myriad unexpected twists make this one utterly unputdownable.”Booklist (starred review)

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
An Earth-Shattering Read

Years ago, Ken Follett established himself as one of the leading writers of espionage fiction with his now-classic The Eye of the Needle. What seemed most refreshing about that book — besides the intricate plot and the edge-of-your-seat suspense — was that the villain was in many ways as fascinating as the heroine. Many Follett novels have come out in the intervening years — some terrific, others good but not great — but I'm happy to report that he has written what may be his best novel since The Eye of the Needle. In addition to the smooth, lyrical prose (a rarity in thriller fiction), the villain of The Hammer of Eden, a man known as Priest, is one of the most fully realized bad guys in thriller fiction history.

Out in the middle of Texas, Priest, who is calling himself Ricky, hitches a ride with a young Mexican-American truck driver named Mario. Mario pines for his beautiful wife and two children back in El Paso, so he works night and day in order to realize his dream for his family's happy future.

Priest has other dreams for Mario's future.

A truck Mario is slated to drive out of Shiloh, Texas, carries a seismic vibrator — a machine that can practically shake oil out of the earth. Priest is leader of a commune in California that has a different use for the vibrator. He will stop at nothing to steal Mario's truck and deliver the prize to his own version of an extended family. After all, when your family's threatened, you have to protect it, right — even if it means murder?

Priest's commune looks like a peaceable kingdom — from the outside. Since the late 1960s, they've been producing wine, eating vegetarian, and living the hippie ideal. But when the government threatened to take away their land in order to develop a power plant, it's a call to action, for many in the group have put nearly 30 years of their lives into their beloved acreage. So, they do what any disgruntled organization might do: threaten their governor. One amongst the commune is a former seismologist who knows that it's possible to cause a major earthquake if the conditions are right. She's already sent an anonymous note on the Internet that the "Hammer of Eden" (as they now call themselves since adopting terrorism as a method of getting what they want) will cause a major quake in California if nuclear power plants are not shut down across the state.

And Priest is getting closer to obtaining the "hammer" that may just explode the San Andreas Fault into an unprecedented geological disaster.

Enter Judy Maddox, an Asian-American FBI agent. She's just brought down the hammer of justice on several Asian hoods that other FBI agents hadn't been able to manage for years. Certain to be up for a top promotion, Judy gets passed over by a man. To add insult to injury, her boss puts Judy on some dumb case concerning a loony-tunes Internet threat about some group causing an earthquake. But as Judy gets more involved in the case and learns that the threat is very real, The Hammer of Eden kicks into high gear. What happens when Judy closes in on the man who wishes to turn Nevada into prime beachfront property is a cat-and-mouse game of epic proportions.

The Hammer of Eden is not to be missed; Follet's writing and the twists in his tale have never been better! Highly recommended.
Douglas Clegg
Douglas Clegg, is the author of numerous horror and suspense novels, including The Halloween Man and Bad Karma, written under his pseudonym, Andrew Harper. His recent Bram Stoker-nominated short story "I Am Infinite, I Contain Multitudes" can be found in the anthology The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Volume 11.

From the Publisher
“Follett ratchets up the Richter scale of suspense.”USA Today
 
“Peerless pacing and character development . . . The Hammer of Eden will nail readers to their seats.”People (A Page-Turner of the Week)
 
“The thrills hit unnervingly close to home in Follett’s latest white-knuckler.”San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Riveting . . . taut plotting, tense action, skillful writing, and myriad unexpected twists make this one utterly unputdownable.”Booklist (starred review)
J.D. Reed
Peerless pacing and character development. . .Hammer will nail readers to their seats.
People Magazine
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After 20 years of writing bestselling novels, Follett is enough of a pro to produce a reliable page-turner from a flimsy premise -- as he does here. His working out of how a rural, socially radical California commune moves not heaven but earth to stave off the loss of their land to a government dam and the ensuing flood is smartly paced if nearly devoid of inspiration. What distinguishes it is not the communards' weapon, a stolen seismic vibrator generally used by oil companies to sound for liquid gold but also handy for starting earthquakes. Nor is it the mechanical progression of the plot, as the radicals, calling themselves the Hammer of Eden, escalate threats and consequent quakes in order to blackmail the state into halting the dam until the finale finds them about to devastate San Francisco. Nor is it the by-the-book chase of the terrorists by a headstrong female FBI agent who might have walked onstage from any of a dozen other thrillers.

What does -- other than its efficient telling -- raise the novel above mundanity is the depth of characterization of its villains, a Follett forte since his splendid debut in Eye of the Needle. Follett devotes many pages to backstory, creating in Priest, once a smalltime hood and now the commune's leader, in Star, his hippie earth-woman, and in Melanie, a bitter young beauty who throws in with the commune, fully realized outcasts, crazed and desperate idealists whose actions are as believable as they are heinous. All else in the novel, including the perfunctory prose, serve only to push the story quickly through its paces, but Follett's troupe of lost souls makes it dance to a memorable, mournful tune.

Library Journal
Richard Granger, a charismatic fugitive known as Priest, controls a long-established winemaking commune in northern California that loses its government lease because of a dam project. Ignoring other alternatives, his group becomes "The Hammer of Eden" and threatens to cause an earthquake unless the governor halts construction. When the threats are ignored, Priest uses a seismic vibrator to ever-increasing effect. San Francisco-based FBI agent Judy Maddox teams up with a seismic expert who is estranged from one of the terrorists and attracted to Judy; together, they guide the FBI in a frantic effort to prevent an earthquake on the Embarcadero. The promising concept and characterizations are weakened by too many coincidences and the sympathetic portrayal of Priest, an antihero of the first rank. Though Follett's latest thriller is not at the level of his earlier titles (e.g., The Third Twin, LJ 9/15/96), his fans and the planned media blitz will create demand.--V. Louise Saylor, Eastern Washington Univ. Lib., Cheney
USA Today
Follett ratchets up the Richter scale of suspense.
Kirkus Reviews
A man-made earthquake is at the epicenter of a dull thud of a thriller.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449227541
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/2/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 306,366
  • Product dimensions: 4.16 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Follett

Ken Follett burst into the book world with Eye of the Needle, an award-winning thriller and international bestseller. He has since written numerous other bestselling thrillers and historical novels, including The Hammer of Eden, The Third Twin, and A Place Called Freedom. He lives in England with his wife, Barbara.

Biography

As a young boy growing up in Cardiff, Wales, Ken Follett's love for all things literary began early on. The son of devoutly religious parents who didn't allow their children to watch television or even listen to the radio, Follett found himself drawn to the library. It soon became his favorite place -- its shelves full of stories providing his escape, and ultimately, his inspiration.

Follett's more formal education took place years later at London's University College, where he studied philosophy -- a choice that, as he explains on his official Web site, he believes guided his career as an author. "There is a real connection between philosophy and fiction," Follet explains. "In philosophy you deal with questions like: ‘We're sitting at this table, but is the table real?' A daft question, but in studying philosophy, you need to take that sort of thing seriously and have an off-the-wall imagination. Writing fiction is the same."

After graduating in 1970, a journalism class touched off Follett's career as a writer. He started out covering beats for the South Wales Echo, and later wrote a column for London's Evening News. Becoming more and more interested in writing fiction on evenings and weekends, however, Follett soon realized that books were his true business, and in 1974 he went to work for Everest Books, a humble London publishing house.

After releasing a few of his own novels to less than thunderous acclaim --including The Shakeout (1975) and Paper Money (1977) -- Follett finally hit it big with 1978's Eye of the Needle. The taut, edgy thriller with more than a dash of sex appeal flew off the shelves, winning the Edgar award and allowing Follett to quit his job and get to work on his next book, Triple. Showing no signs of a sophomore slump, Triple went on to spark a string of bestselling spy thrillers, including The Key to Rebecca (1980), The Man from St. Petersburg (1982), and Lie Down with Lions (1986). 1983's On Wings of Eagles was an interesting departure -- a nonfiction account of how two of Ross Perot's employees were rescued from Iran in 1979.

Follett changed direction even more sharply in 1989, surprising fans with The Pillars of the Earth -- a novel set in the Middle Ages many critics considered his crowning achievement. "A novel of majesty and power," said The Chicago Sun-Times of Follett's epic story. "It will hold you, fascinate you, surround you."

Follett's next three books were a trio considered to be more suspenseful than thrill-filled -- Night Over Water (1991), A Dangerous Fortune (1993) and A Place Called Freedom (1995), but The Third Twin (1996) and The Hammer of Eden (1998) marked a return to Follett's trademark capers. The wartime novels Code to Zero (2000) and Jackdaws (2001) showcased Follett's "unique ability to tell stories of international conflict and tell them well," according to Larry King in USA Today.

Follett "hits the mark again" (Publishers Weekly) with his latest story of international intrigue, Hornet Flight (2002) -- the WWII story of a young couple trying to escape occupied Denmark in a rebuilt Hornet Moth biplane who become unwitting carriers of top-secret information.

In a way, Follett's smash-hit success has allowed him to give back to the library of Cardiff, Wales -- by filling its shelves with his own transporting tales.

Good To Know

Eye of the Needle was made into a major motion picture, and four of Follett's books have been made into television mini-series: The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, On Wings of Eagles and The Third Twin -- the rights for which were sold to CBS for the record sum of $1,400,000.

A very civic-minded soul, Follett is quite involved in his Hertfordshire community, serving as President of the Dyslexia Institute, Council Member of the National Literacy Trust, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Chair of Governors of the Roebuck Primary School & Nursery, Patron of Stevenage Home-Start, director of the Stevenage Leisure Ltd. and Vice-President of the Stevenage Borough Football club.

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    1. Hometown:
      Hertfordshire, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 5, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cardiff, Wales
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Philosophy, University College, London, 1970

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 1

A man called Priest pulled his cowboy hat down at the front and peered across the flat, dusty desert of South Texas.

The low dull green bushes of thorny mesquite and sagebrush stretched in every direction as far as he could see. In front of him, a ridged and rutted track ten feet wide had been driven through the vegetation. These tracks were called senderos by the Hispanic bulldozer drivers who cut them in brutally straight lines. On one side, at precise fifty-yard intervals, bright pink plastic marker flags fluttered on short wire poles. A truck moved slowly along the sendero.

Priest had to steal the truck.

He had stolen his first vehicle at the age of eleven, a brand-new snow white 1961 Lincoln Continental parked, with the keys in the dash, outside the Roxy Theatre on South Broadway in Los Angeles. Priest, who was called Ricky in those days, could hardly see over the steering wheel. He had been so scared he almost wet himself, but he drove it ten blocks and handed the keys proudly to Jimmy "Pigface" Riley, who gave him five bucks, then took his girl for a drive and crashed the car on the Pacific Coast Highway. That was how Ricky became a member of the Pigface Gang.

But this truck was not just a vehicle.

As he watched, the powerful machinery behind the driver's cabin slowly lowered a massive steel plate, six feet square, to the ground. There was a pause, then he heard a low-pitched rumble. A cloud of dust rose around the truck as the plate began to pound the earth rhythmically. He felt the ground shake beneath his feet.

This was a seismic vibrator, a machine for sending shock waves through the earth's crust. Priest had never had much education, except in stealing cars, but he was the smartest person he had ever met, and he understood how the vibrator worked. It was similar to radar and sonar. The shock waves were reflected off features in the earth—such as rock or liquid—and they bounced back to the surface, where they were picked up by listening devices called geophones, or jugs.

Priest worked on the jug team. They had planted more than a thousand geophones at precisely measured intervals in a grid a mile square. Every time the vibrator shook, the reflections were picked up by the jugs and recorded by a supervisor working in a trailer known as the doghouse. All this data would later be fed into a supercomputer in Houston to produce a three-dimensional map of what was under the earth's surface. The map would be sold to an oil company.

The vibrations rose in pitch, making a noise like the mighty engines of an ocean liner gathering speed; then the sound stopped abruptly. Priest ran along the sendero to the truck, screwing up his eyes against the billowing dust. He opened the door and clambered up into the cabin. A stocky black-haired man of about thirty was at the wheel. "Hey, Mario," Priest said as he slid into the seat alongside the driver.

"Hey, Ricky."

Richard Granger was the name on Priest's commercial driving license (class B). The license was forged, but the name was real.

He was carrying a carton of Marlboro cigarettes, the brand Mario smoked. He tossed the carton onto the dash. "Here, I brought you something."

"Hey, man, you don't need to buy me no cigarettes."

"I'm always bummin' your smokes." He picked up the open pack on the dash, shook one out, and put it in his mouth.

Mario smiled. "Why don't you just buy your own cigarettes?"

"Hell, no, I can't afford to smoke."

"You're crazy, man." Mario laughed.

Priest lit his cigarette. He had always had an easy ability to get on with people, make them like him. On the streets where he grew up, people beat you up if they didn't like you, and he had been a runty kid. So he had developed an intuitive feel for what people wanted from him—deference, affection, humor, whatever—and the habit of giving it to them quickly. In the oilfield, what held the men together was humor: usually mocking, sometimes clever, often obscene.

Although he had been here only two weeks, Priest had won the trust of his co-workers. But he had not figured out how to steal the seismic vibrator. And he had to do it in the next few hours, for tomorrow the truck was scheduled to be driven to a new site, seven hundred miles away, near Clovis, New Mexico.

His vague plan was to hitch a ride with Mario. The trip would take two or three days—the truck, which weighed forty thousand pounds, had a highway speed of around forty miles per hour. At some point he would get Mario drunk or something, then make off with the truck. He had been hoping a better plan would come to him, but inspiration had failed so far.

"My car's dying," he said. "You want to give me a ride as far as San Antonio tomorrow?"

Mario was surprised. "You ain't coming all the way to Clovis?"

"Nope." He waved a hand at the bleak desert landscape. "Just look around," he said. "Texas is so beautiful, man, I never want to leave."

Mario shrugged. There was nothing unusual about a restless transient in this line of work. "Sure, I'll give you a ride." It was against company rules to take passengers, but the drivers did it all the time. "Meet me at the dump."

Priest nodded. The garbage dump was a desolate hollow, full of rusting pickups and smashed TV sets and verminous mattresses, on the outskirts of Shiloh, the nearest town. No one would be there to see Mario pick him up, unless it was a couple of kids shooting snakes with a .22 rifle. "What time?"

"Let's say six."

"I'll bring coffee."

Priest needed this truck. He felt his life depended on it. His palms itched to grab Mario right now and throw him out and just drive away. But that was no good. For one thing, Mario was almost twenty years younger than Priest and might not let himself be thrown out so easily. For another, the theft had to go undiscovered for a few days. Priest needed to drive the truck to California and hide it before the nation's cops were alerted to watch out for a stolen seismic vibrator.

There was a beep from the radio, indicating that the supervisor in the doghouse had checked the data from the last vibration and found no problems. Mario raised the plate, put the truck in gear, and moved forward fifty yards, pulling up exactly alongside the next pink marker flag. Then he lowered the plate again and sent a ready signal. Priest watched closely, as he had done several times before, making sure he remembered the order in which Mario moved the levers and threw the switches. If he forgot something later, there would be no one he could ask.

They waited for the radio signal from the doghouse that would start the next vibration. This could be done by the driver in the truck, but generally supervisors preferred to retain command themselves and start the process by remote control. Priest finished his cigarette and threw the butt out the window. Mario nodded toward Priest's car, parked a quarter of a mile away on the two-lane blacktop. "That your woman?"

Priest looked. Star had got out of the dirty light blue Honda Civic and was leaning on the hood, fanning her face with her straw hat. "Yeah," he said.

"Lemme show you a picture." Mario pulled an old leather billfold out of the pocket of his jeans. He extracted a photograph and handed it to Priest. "This is Isabella," he said proudly.

Priest saw a pretty Mexican girl in her twenties wearing a yellow dress and a yellow Alice band in her hair. She held a baby on her hip, and a dark-haired boy was standing shyly by her side. "Your children?"

He nodded. "Ross and Betty."

Priest resisted the impulse to smile at the Anglo names. "Good-looking kids." He thought of his own children and almost told Mario about them; but he stopped himself just in time. "Where do they live?"

"El Paso."

The germ of an idea sprouted in Priest's mind. "You get to see them much?"

Mario shook his head. "I'm workin' and workin', man. Savin' my money to buy them a place. A nice house, with a big kitchen and a pool in the yard. They deserve that."

The idea blossomed. Priest suppressed his excitement and kept his voice casual, making idle conversation. "Yeah, a beautiful house for a beautiful family, right?"

"That's what I'm thinking."

The radio beeped again, and the truck began to shake. The noise was like rolling thunder, but more regular. It began on a profound bass note and slowly rose in pitch. After exactly fourteen seconds it stopped.

In the quiet that followed, Priest snapped his fingers. "Say, I got an idea...No, maybe not."

"What?"

"I don't know if it would work."

"What, man, what?"

"I just thought, you know, your wife is so pretty and your kids are so cute, it's wrong you don't see them more often."

"That's your idea?"

"No. My idea is, I could drive the truck to New Mexico while you go visit them, that's all." It was important not to seem too keen, Priest told himself. "But I guess it wouldn't work out," he added in a who-gives-a-damn voice.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter One

    A man called Priest pulled his cowboy hat down at the front and peered across the flat, dusty desert of South Texas.

    The low dull green bushes of thorny mesquite and sagebrush stretched in every direction as far as he could see. In front of him, a ridged and rutted track ten feet wide had been driven through the vegetation. These tracks were called senderos by the Hispanic bulldozer drivers who cut them in brutally straight lines. On one side, at precise fifty-yard intervals, bright pink plastic marker flags fluttered on short wire poles. A truck moved slowly along the sendero.

    Priest had to steal the truck.

    He had stolen his first vehicle at the age of eleven, a brand-new snow white 1961 Lincoln Continental parked, with the keys in the dash, outside the Roxy Theatre on South Broadway in Los Angeles. Priest, who was called Ricky in those days, could hardly see over the steering wheel. He had been so scared he almost wet himself, but he drove it ten blocks and handed the keys proudly to Jimmy "Pigface" Riley, who gave him five bucks, then took his girl for a drive and crashed the car on the Pacific Coast Highway. That was how Ricky became a member of the Pigface Gang.

    But this truck was not just a vehicle.

    As he watched, the powerful machinery behind the driver's cabin slowly lowered a massive steel plate, six feet square, to the ground. There was a pause, then he heard a low-pitched rumble. A cloud of dust rose around the truck as the plate began to pound the earth rhythmically. He felt the ground shake beneath his feet.

    This was a seismic vibrator, a machine for sending shock waves through the earth's crust. Priest had never had much education, except in stealing cars, but he was the smartest person he had ever met, and he understood how the vibrator worked. It was similar to radar and sonar. The shock waves were reflected off features in the earth--such as rock or liquid--and they bounced back to the surface, where they were picked up by listening devices called geophones, or jugs.

    Priest worked on the jug team. They had planted more than a thousand geophones at precisely measured intervals in a grid a mile square. Every time the vibrator shook, the reflections were picked up by the jugs and recorded by a supervisor working in a trailer known as the doghouse. All this data would later be fed into a supercomputer in Houston to produce a three-dimensional map of what was under the earth's surface. The map would be sold to an oil company.

    The vibrations rose in pitch, making a noise like the mighty engines of an ocean liner gathering speed; then the sound stopped abruptly. Priest ran along the sendero to the truck, screwing up his eyes against the billowing dust. He opened the door and clambered up into the cabin. A stocky black-haired man of about thirty was at the wheel. "Hey, Mario," Priest said as he slid into the seat alongside the driver.

    "Hey, Ricky."

    Richard Granger was the name on Priest's commercial driving license (class B). The license was forged, but the name was real.

    He was carrying a carton of Marlboro cigarettes, the brand Mario smoked. He tossed the carton onto the dash. "Here, I brought you something."

    "Hey, man, you don't need to buy me no cigarettes."

    "I'm always bummin' your smokes." He picked up the open pack on the dash, shook one out, and put it in his mouth.

    Mario smiled. "Why don't you just buy your own cigarettes?"

    "Hell, no, I can't afford to smoke."

    "You're crazy, man." Mario laughed.

    Priest lit his cigarette. He had always had an easy ability to get on with people, make them like him. On the streets where he grew up, people beat you up if they didn't like you, and he had been a runty kid. So he had developed an intuitive feel for what people wanted from him--deference, affection, humor, whatever--and the habit of giving it to them quickly. In the oilfield, what held the men together was humor: usually mocking, sometimes clever, often obscene.

    Although he had been here only two weeks, Priest had won the trust of his co-workers. But he had not figured out how to steal the seismic vibrator. And he had to do it in the next few hours, for tomorrow the truck was scheduled to be driven to a new site, seven hundred miles away, near Clovis, New Mexico.

    His vague plan was to hitch a ride with Mario. The trip would take two or three days--the truck, which weighed forty thousand pounds, had a highway speed of around forty miles per hour. At some point he would get Mario drunk or something, then make off with the truck. He had been hoping a better plan would come to him, but inspiration had failed so far.

    "My car's dying," he said. "You want to give me a ride as far as San Antonio tomorrow?"

    Mario was surprised. "You ain't coming all the way to Clovis?"

    "Nope." He waved a hand at the bleak desert landscape. "Just look around," he said. "Texas is so beautiful, man, I never want to leave."

    Mario shrugged. There was nothing unusual about a restless transient in this line of work. "Sure, I'll give you a ride." It was against company rules to take passengers, but the drivers did it all the time. "Meet me at the dump."

    Priest nodded. The garbage dump was a desolate hollow, full of rusting pickups and smashed TV sets and verminous mattresses, on the outskirts of Shiloh, the nearest town. No one would be there to see Mario pick him up, unless it was a couple of kids shooting snakes with a .22 rifle. "What time?"

    "Let's say six."

    "I'll bring coffee."

    Priest needed this truck. He felt his life depended on it. His palms itched to grab Mario right now and throw him out and just drive away. But that was no good. For one thing, Mario was almost twenty years younger than Priest and might not let himself be thrown out so easily. For another, the theft had to go undiscovered for a few days. Priest needed to drive the truck to California and hide it before the nation's cops were alerted to watch out for a stolen seismic vibrator.

    There was a beep from the radio, indicating that the supervisor in the doghouse had checked the data from the last vibration and found no problems. Mario raised the plate, put the truck in gear, and moved forward fifty yards, pulling up exactly alongside the next pink marker flag. Then he lowered the plate again and sent a ready signal. Priest watched closely, as he had done several times before, making sure he remembered the order in which Mario moved the levers and threw the switches. If he forgot something later, there would be no one he could ask.

    They waited for the radio signal from the doghouse that would start the next vibration. This could be done by the driver in the truck, but generally supervisors preferred to retain command themselves and start the process by remote control. Priest finished his cigarette and threw the butt out the window. Mario nodded toward Priest's car, parked a quarter of a mile away on the two-lane blacktop. "That your woman?"

    Priest looked. Star had got out of the dirty light blue Honda Civic and was leaning on the hood, fanning her face with her straw hat. "Yeah," he said.

    "Lemme show you a picture." Mario pulled an old leather billfold out of the pocket of his jeans. He extracted a photograph and handed it to Priest. "This is Isabella," he said proudly.

    Priest saw a pretty Mexican girl in her twenties wearing a yellow dress and a yellow Alice band in her hair. She held a baby on her hip, and a dark-haired boy was standing shyly by her side. "Your children?"

    He nodded. "Ross and Betty."

    Priest resisted the impulse to smile at the Anglo names. "Good-looking kids." He thought of his own children and almost told Mario about them; but he stopped himself just in time. "Where do they live?"

    "El Paso."

    The germ of an idea sprouted in Priest's mind. "You get to see them much?"

    Mario shook his head. "I'm workin' and workin', man. Savin' my money to buy them a place. A nice house, with a big kitchen and a pool in the yard. They deserve that."

    The idea blossomed. Priest suppressed his excitement and kept his voice casual, making idle conversation. "Yeah, a beautiful house for a beautiful family, right?"

    "That's what I'm thinking."

    The radio beeped again, and the truck began to shake. The noise was like rolling thunder, but more regular. It began on a profound bass note and slowly rose in pitch. After exactly fourteen seconds it stopped.

    In the quiet that followed, Priest snapped his fingers. "Say, I got an idea. ... No, maybe not."

    "What?"

    "I don't know if it would work."

    "What, man, what?"

    "I just thought, you know, your wife is so pretty and your kids are so cute, it's wrong that you don't see them more often."

    "That's your idea?"

    "No. My idea is, I could drive the truck to New Mexico while you go visit them, that's all." It was important not to seem too keen, Priest told himself. "But I guess it wouldn't work out," he added in a who-gives-a-damn voice.

    "No, man, it ain't possible."

    "Probably not. Let's see, if we set out early tomorrow and drove to San Antonio together, I could drop you off at the airport there, you could be in El Paso by noon, probably. You'd play with the kids, have dinner with your wife, spend the night, get a plane the next day, I could pick you up at Lubbock airport. ... How far is Lubbock from Clovis?"

    "Ninety, maybe a hundred miles."

    "We could be in Clovis that night, or next morning at the latest, and no way for anyone to know you didn't drive the whole way."

    "But you want to go to San Antonio."

    Shit. Priest had not thought this through; he was making it up as he went along. "Hey, I've never been to Lubbock," he said airily. "That's where Buddy Holly was born."

    "Who the hell is Buddy Holly?"

    Priest sang: "`I love you, Peggy Sue. ...' Buddy Holly died before you were born, Mario. I liked him better than Elvis. And don't ask me who Elvis was."

    "You'd drive all that way just for me?"

    Priest wondered anxiously whether Mario was suspicious or just grateful. "Sure I would," Priest told him. "As long as you let me smoke your Marlboros."

    Mario shook his head in amazement. "You're a hell of a guy, Ricky. But I don't know."

    He was not suspicious, then. But he was apprehensive, and he probably could not be pushed into a decision. Priest masked his frustration with a show of nonchalance. "Well, think about it," he said.

    "If something goes wrong, I don't want to lose my job."

    "You're right." Priest fought down his impatience. "I tell you what, let's talk later. You going to the bar tonight?"

    "Sure."

    "Why don't you let me know then?"

    "Okay, that's a deal."

    The radio beeped the all-clear signal, and Mario threw the lever that raised the plate off the ground.

    "I got to get back to the jug team," Priest said. "We've got a few miles of cable to roll up before nightfall." He handed back the family photo and opened the door. "I'm telling you, man, if I had a girl that pretty, I wouldn't leave the goddamn house." He grinned, then jumped to the ground and slammed the door.

    The truck moved off toward the next marker flag as Priest walked away, his cowboy boots kicking up dust.

    As he followed the sendero to where his car was parked, he saw Star begin to pace up and down, impatient and anxious.

    She had been famous, once, briefly. At the peak of the hippie era she lived in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Priest had not known her then--he had spent the late sixties making his first million dollars--but he had heard the stories. She had been a striking beauty, tall and black haired with a generous hourglass figure. She had made a record, reciting poetry against a background of psychedelic music with a band called Raining Fresh Daisies. The album had been a minor hit, and Star was a celebrity for a few days.

    But what turned her into a legend was her insatiable sexual promiscuity. She had had sex with anyone who briefly took her fancy: eager twelve-year-olds and surprised men in their sixties, boys who thought they were gay and girls who did not know they were lesbians, friends she had known for years and strangers off the street.

    That was a long time ago. Now she was a few weeks from her fiftieth birthday, and there were streaks of gray in her hair. Her figure was still generous, though no longer like an hourglass: she weighed a hundred and eighty pounds. But she still exercised an extraordinary sexual magnetism. When she walked into a bar, men stared.

    Even now, when she was worried and hot, there was a sexy flounce to the way she paced and turned beside the cheap old car, an invitation in the movement of her flesh beneath the thin cotton dress, and Priest felt the urge to grab her right there.

    "What happened?" she said as soon as he was within earshot.

    Priest was always upbeat. "Looking good," he said.

    "That sounds bad," she said skeptically. She knew better than to take what he said at face value.

    He told her the offer he had made to Mario. "The beauty of it is, Mario will be blamed," he added.

    "How so?"

    "Think about it. He gets to Lubbock, he looks for me, I ain't there, nor his truck, either. He figures he's been suckered. What does he do? Is he going to make his way to Clovis and tell the company he lost their truck? I don't think so. At best, he'd be fired. At worst, he could be accused of stealing the truck and thrown in jail. I'm betting he won't even go to Clovis. He'll get right back on the plane, fly to El Paso, put his wife and kids in the car, and disappear. Then the police will be sure he stole the truck. And Ricky Granger won't even be a suspect."

    She frowned. "It's a great plan, but will he take the bait?"

    "I think he will."

    Her anxiety deepened. She slapped the dirty roof of the car with the flat of her hand. "Shit, we have to have that goddamn truck!"

    He was as worried as she, but he covered it with a cocksure air. "We will," he said. "If not this way, another way."

    She put the straw hat on her head and leaned back against the car, closing her eyes. "I wish I felt sure."

    He stroked her cheek. "You need a ride, lady?"

    "Yes, please. Take me to my air-conditioned hotel room."

    "There'll be a price to pay."

    She opened her eyes wide in pretended innocence. "Will I have to do something nasty, mister?"

    He slid his hand into her cleavage. "Yeah."

    "Oh, darn," she said, and she lifted the skirt of her dress up around her waist.

    She had no underwear on.

    Priest grinned and unbuttoned his Levi's.

    She said: "What will Mario think if he sees us?"

    "He'll be jealous," Priest said as he entered her. They were almost the same height, and they fit together with the ease of long practice.

    She kissed his mouth.

    A few moments later he heard a vehicle approaching on the road. They both looked up without stopping what they were doing. It was a pickup truck with three roustabouts in the front seat. The men could see what was going on, and they whooped and hollered through the open window as they went by.

    Star waved at them, calling: "Hi, guys!"

    Priest laughed so hard, he came.

* * *

The crisis had entered its final, decisive phase exactly three weeks earlier.

    They were sitting at the long table in the cookhouse, eating their midday meal, a spicy stew of lentils and vegetables with fresh bread warm from the oven, when Paul Beale walked in with an envelope in his hand.

    Paul bottled the wine that Priest's commune made--but he did more than that. He was their link with the outside, enabling them to deal with the world yet keep it at a distance. A bald, bearded man in a leather jacket, he had been Priest's friend since the two of them were fourteen-year-old hoodlums, rolling drunks in L.A.'s skid row in the early sixties.

    Priest guessed that Paul had received the letter that morning and had immediately got in his car and driven here from Napa. He also guessed what was in the letter, but he waited for Paul to explain.

    "It's from the Bureau of Land Management," Paul said. "Addressed to Stella Higgins." He handed it to Star, sitting at the foot of the table opposite Priest. Stella Higgins was her real name, the name under which she had first rented this piece of land from the Department of the Interior in the autumn of 1969.

    Around the table, everyone went quiet. Even the kids shut up, sensing the atmosphere of fear and dismay.

    Star ripped open the envelope and took out a single sheet. She read it with one glance. "June the seventh," she said.

    Priest said reflexively: "Five weeks and two days from now." That kind of calculation came automatically to him.

    Several people groaned in despair. A woman called Song began to cry quietly. One of Priest's children, ten-year-old Ringo, said: "Why, Star, why?"

    Priest caught the eye of Melanie, the newest arrival. She was a tall, thin woman, twenty-eight years old, with striking good looks: pale skin, long hair the color of paprika, and the body of a model. Her five-year-old son, Dusty, sat beside her. "What?" Melanie said in a shocked voice. "What is this?"

    Everyone else had known this was coming, but it was too depressing to talk about, and they had not told Melanie.

    Priest said: "We have to leave the valley. I'm sorry, Melanie."

    Star read from the letter. "'The above-named parcel of land will become dangerous for human habitation after June seventh, therefore your tenancy is hereby terminated on that date in accordance with clause nine, part B, paragraph two, of your lease.'"

    Melanie stood up. Her white skin flushed red, and her pretty face twisted in sudden rage. "No!" she yelled. "No! They can't do this to me--I've only just found you! I don't believe it, it's a lie." She turned her fury on Paul. "Liar!" she screamed. "Motherfucking liar!"

    Her child began to cry.

    "Hey, knock it off!" Paul said indignantly. "I'm just the goddamn mailman here!"

    Everyone started shouting at the same time.

    Priest was beside Melanie in a couple of strides. He put his arm around her and spoke quietly into her ear. "You're frightening Dusty," he said. "Sit down, now. You're right to be mad, we're all mad as hell."

    "Tell me it isn't true," she said.

    Priest gently pushed her into her chair. "It's true, Melanie," he said. "It's true."

    When they had quieted down, Priest said: "Come on, everyone, let's wash the dishes and get back to work."

    "Why?" said Dale. He was the winemaker. Not one of the founders, he had come here in the eighties, disillusioned with the commercial world. After Priest and Star, he was the most important person in the group. "We won't be here for the harvest," he went on. "We have to leave in five weeks. Why work?"

    Priest fixed him with the Look, the hypnotic stare that intimidated all but the most strong-willed people. He let the room fall silent, so that they would all hear. At last he said: "Because miracles happen."

* * *

A local ordinance prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages in the town of Shiloh, Texas, but just the other side of the town line there was a bar called the Doodlebug, with cheap draft beer and a country-western band and waitresses in tight blue jeans and cowboy boots.

    Priest went on his own. He did not want Star to show her face and risk being remembered later. He wished she had not had to come to Texas. But he needed someone to help him take the seismic vibrator home. They would drive day and night, taking turns at the wheel, using drugs to stay awake. They wanted to be home before the machine was missed.

    He was regretting that afternoon's indiscretion. Mario had seen Star from a full quarter of a mile away, and the three roustabouts in the pickup had glimpsed her only in passing, but she was distinctive looking, and they could probably give a rough description of her: a tall white woman, heavyset, with long dark hair. ...

    Priest had changed his appearance before arriving in Shiloh. He had grown a bushy beard and mustache and tied his long hair in a tight plait that he kept tucked up inside his hat.

    However, if everything went according to his plan, no one would be asking for descriptions of him or Star.

    When he arrived at the Doodlebug, Mario was already there, sitting at a table with five or six of the jug team and the party boss, Lenny Petersen, who controlled the entire seismic exploration crew.

    Not to seem too eager, Priest got a Lone Star longneck and stood at the bar for a while, sipping his beer from the bottle and talking to the barmaid, before joining Mario's table.

    Lenny was a balding man with a red nose. He had given Priest the job two weekends ago. Priest had spent an evening at the bar, drinking moderately, being friendly to the crew, picking up a smattering of seismic exploration slang, and laughing loudly at Lenny's jokes. Next morning he had found Lenny at the field office and asked him for a job. "I'll take you on trial," Lenny had said.

    That was all Priest needed.

    He was hardworking, quick to catch on, and easy to get along with, and in a few days he was accepted as a regular member of the crew.

    Now, as he sat down, Lenny said in his slow Texas accent: "So, Ricky, you're not coming with us to Clovis."

    "That's right," Priest said. "I like the weather here too much to leave."

    "Well, I'd just like to say, very sincerely, that it's been a real privilege and pleasure knowing you, even for such a short time."

    The others grinned. This kind of joshing was commonplace. They looked to Priest for a riposte.

    He put on a solemn face and said: "Lenny, you're so sweet and kind to me that I'm going to ask you one more time. Will you marry me?"

    They all laughed. Mario clapped Priest on the back.

    Lenny looked troubled and said: "You know I can't marry you, Ricky. I already told you the reason why." He paused for dramatic effect, and they all leaned forward to catch the punch line. "I'm a lesbian."

    They roared with laughter. Priest gave a rueful smile, acknowledging defeat, and ordered a pitcher of beer for the table.

    The conversation turned to baseball. Most of them liked the Houston Astros, but Lenny was from Arlington and he followed the Texas Rangers. Priest had no interest in sports, so he waited impatiently, joining in now and again with a neutral comment. They were in an expansive mood. The job had been finished on time, they had all been well paid, and it was Friday night. Priest sipped his beer slowly. He never drank much: he hated to lose control. He watched Mario sinking the suds. When Tummy, their waitress, brought another pitcher, Mario stared longingly at her breasts beneath the checkered shirt. Keep wishing, Mario--you could be in bed with your wife tomorrow night.

    After an hour, Mario went to the men's room.

    Priest followed. The hell with this waiting, it's decision time.

    He stood beside Mario and said: "I believe Tammy's wearing black underwear tonight."

    "How do you know?"

    "I got a little peek when she leaned over the table. I love to see a lacy brassiere."

    Mario sighed.

    Priest went on: "You like a woman in black underwear?"

    "Red," said Mario decisively.

    "Yeah, red's beautiful, too. They say that's a sign a woman really wants you, when she puts on red underwear."

    "Is that a fact?" Mario's beery breath came a little faster.

    "Yeah, I heard it somewhere." Priest buttoned up. "Listen, I got to go. My woman's waiting back at the motel."

    Mario grinned and wiped sweat from his brow. "I saw you and her this afternoon, man."

    Priest shook his head in mock regret. "It's my weakness. I just can't say no to a pretty face."

    "You were doing it, right there in the goddamn road!"

    "Yeah. Well, when you haven't seen your woman for a while, she gets kind of frantic for it, know what I mean?" Come on, Mario, take the friggin' hint!

    "Yeah, I know. Listen, about tomorrow ..."

    Priest held his breath.

    "Uh, if you're still willing to do like you said ..."

    Yes! Yes!

    "Let's go for it."

    Priest resisted the temptation to hug him.

    Mario said anxiously: "You still want to, right?"

    "Sure I do." Priest put an arm around Mario's shoulders as they left the men's room. "Hey, what are buddies for, know what I mean?"

    "Thanks, man." There were tears in Mario's eyes. "You're some guy, Ricky."

* * *

They washed their pottery bowls and wooden spoons in a big tub of warm water and dried them on a towel made from an old workshirt. Melanie said to Priest: "Well, we'll just start again somewhere else! Get a piece of land, build wood cabins, plant vines, make wine. Why not? That's what you did all those years ago."

    "It is," Priest said. He put his bowl on a shelf and tossed his spoon into the box. For a moment he was young again, strong as a pony and boundlessly energetic, certain that he could solve whatever problem life threw up next. He remembered the unique smells of those days: newly sawn timber; Star's young body, perspiring as she dug the soil; the distinctive smoke of their own marijuana, grown in a clearing in the woods; the dizzy sweetness of grapes as they were crushed. Then he returned to the present, and he sat down at the table.

    "All those years ago," he repeated. "We rented this land from the government for next to nothing, then they forgot about us."

    Star put in: "Never a rent increase, in twenty-nine years."

    Priest went on: "We cleared the forest with the labor of thirty or forty young people who were willing to work for free, twelve and fourteen hours a day, for the sake of an ideal."

    Paul Beale grinned. "My back still hurts when I think of it."

    "We got our vines for nothing from a kindly Napa Valley grower who wanted to encourage young people to do something constructive instead of just sitting around taking drugs all day."

    "Old Raymond Dellavalle," Paul said. "He's dead now, God bless him."

    "And, most important, we were willing and able to live on the poverty line, half-starved, sleeping on the floor, holes in our shoes, for five long years until we got our first salable vintage."

    Star picked up a crawling baby from the floor, wiped its nose, and said: "And we didn't have any kids to worry about."

    "Right," Priest said. "If we could reproduce all those conditions, we could start again."

    Melanie was not satisfied. "There has to be a way!"

    "Well, there is," Priest said. "Paul figured it out."

    Paul nodded. "You could set up a corporation, borrow a quarter of a million dollars from a bank, hire a workforce, and become like any other bunch of greedy capitalists watching the profit margins."

    "And that," Priest said, "would be the same as giving in."

* * *

It was still dark when Priest and Star got up on Saturday morning in Shiloh. Priest got coffee from the diner next door to their motel. When he came back, Star was poring over a road atlas by the light of the reading lamp. "You should be dropping Mario off at San Antonio International Airport around nine-thirty, ten o'clock this morning," she said. "Then you'll want to leave town on Interstate 10."

    Priest did not look at the atlas. Maps baffled him. He could follow signs for 1-10. "Where shall we meet?"

    Star calculated. "I should be about an hour ahead of you." She put her finger on a point on the page. "There's a place called Leon Springs on 1-10 about fifteen miles from the airport. I'll park where you're sure to see the car."

    "Sounds good."

    They were tense and excited. Stealing Mario's truck was only the first step in the plan, but it was crucial: everything else depended on it.

    Star was worrying about practicalities. "What will we do with the Honda?"

    Priest had bought the car three weeks ago for a thousand dollars cash. "It's going to be hard to sell. If we see a used-car lot, we may get five hundred for it. Otherwise we'll find a wooded spot off the interstate and dump it."

    "Can we afford to?"

    "Money makes you poor." Priest was quoting one of the Five Paradoxes of Baghram, the guru they lived by.

    Priest knew how much money they had to the last cent, but he kept everyone else in ignorance. Most of the communards did not even know there was a bank account. And no one in the world knew about Priest's emergency cash, ten thousand dollars in twenties, taped to the inside of a battered old acoustic guitar that hung from a nail on the wall of his cabin.

    Star shrugged. "I haven't worried about it for twenty-five years, so I guess I won't start now." She took off her reading glasses.

    Priest smiled at her. "You're cute in your glasses."

    She gave him a sideways glance and asked a surprise question. "Are you looking forward to seeing Melanie?"

    Priest and Melanie were lovers.

    He took Star's hand. "Sure," he said.

    "I like to see you with her. She makes you happy."

    A sudden memory of Melanie flashed into Priest's brain. She was lying facedown across his bed, asleep, with the morning sun slanting into the cabin. He sat sipping coffee, watching her, enjoying the texture of her white skin, the curve of her perfect rear end, the way her long red hair spread out in a tangled skein. In a moment she would smell the coffee, and roll over, and open her eyes, and then he would get back into bed and make love to her. But for now he was luxuriating in anticipation, planning how he would touch her and turn her on, savoring this delicious moment like a glass of fine wine.

    The vision faded and he saw Star's forty-nine-year-old face in a cheap Texas motel. "You're not unhappy about Melanie, are you?" he asked.

    "Marriage is the greatest infidelity," she said, quoting another of the Paradoxes.

    He nodded. They had never asked each other to be faithful. In the early days it had been Star who scorned the idea of committing herself to one lover. Then, after she hit thirty and started to calm down, Priest had tested her permissiveness by flaunting a string of girls in front of her. But for the last few years, though they still believed in the principle of free love, neither of them had actually taken advantage of it.

    So Melanie had come as kind of a shock to Star. But that was okay. Their relationship was too settled anyway. Priest did not like anyone to feel they could predict what he was going to do. He loved Star, but the ill-concealed anxiety in her eyes gave him a pleasant feeling of control.

    She toyed with her Styrofoam coffee container. "I just wonder how Flower feels about it all." Flower was their thirteen-year-old daughter, the oldest child in the commune.

    "She hasn't grown up in a nuclear family," he said. "We haven't made her a slave to bourgeois convention. That's the point of a commune."

    "Yeah," Star agreed, but it was not enough. "I just don't want her to lose you, that's all."

    He stroked her hand. "It won't happen."

    She squeezed his fingers. "Thanks."

    "We got to go," he said, standing up.

    Their few possessions were packed into three plastic grocery bags. Priest picked up the bags and took them outside to the Honda. Star followed.

    They had paid their bill the previous night. The office was closed, and no one watched as Star took the wheel and they drove away in the gray early light.

    Shiloh was a two-street town with one stoplight where the streets crossed. There were not many vehicles around at this hour on a Saturday morning. Star ran the stoplight and headed out of town. They reached the dump a few minutes before six o'clock.

    There was no sign beside the road, no fence or gate, just a track where the sagebrush had been beaten down by the tires of pickup trucks. Star followed the track over a slight rise. The dump was in a dip, hidden from the road. She pulled up beside a pile of smoldering garbage. There was no sign of Mario or the seismic vibrator.

    Priest could tell that Star was still troubled. He had to reassure her, he thought worriedly. She could not afford to be distracted today of all days. If something should go wrong, she would need to be alert, focused.

    "Flower isn't going to lose me," he said.

    "That's good," she replied cautiously.

    "We're going to stay together, the three of us. You know why?"

    "Tell me."

    "Because we love each other."

    He saw relief drain the tension out of her face. She fought back tears. "Thank you," she said.

    He felt reassured. He had given her what she needed. She would be okay now.

    He kissed her. "Mario will be here any second. You get movin', now. Put some miles behind you."

    "You don't want me to wait until he gets here?"

    "He mustn't get a close look at you. We can't tell what the future holds, and I don't want him to be able to identify you."

    "Okay."

    Priest got out of the car.

    "Hey," she said, "don't forget Mario's coffee." She handed him the paper sack.

    "Thanks." He took the bag and slammed the car door.

[CHAPTER ONE CONTINUES ...]

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Interviews & Essays

Before the live bn.com chat, Ken Follett agreed to answer some of our questions.

Q:  The plot of your new novel, The Hammer of Eden, involves ecoterrorists who have discovered a way to trigger major earthquakes along West Coast fault lines. How realistic a concern should this be for citizens of California? Is this possible?

A:  I sincerely hope that what happens in The Hammer of Eden could not happen in real life. When I dreamed up the scenario, I asked several seismologists what they thought of it. Some said, "Impossible"; others said, "It could happen, who knows?" If you feel worried, read my book -- it will help you relax.

Q:  Who would you consider some of your literary influences?

A:  My biggest literary influence is Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond. I read Casino Royale in 1961, when I was 12 years old, and I was blown away by it. That kind of fast-moving story of adventure and suspense is what I love to read and to write.

Q:  How involved were you in bringing The Third Twin to the screen? Were you happy with the end result?

A:  I visited the set of "The Third Twin" and appeared very briefly onscreen, as Larry Hagman's butler, Kenneth. I was very pleased indeed with the miniseries. The script was good, the actors were great, and it was a big success for CBS.

Q:  Who are some of your heroes?

A:  My hero is the blues singer, songwriter, and recording artist Willie Dixon. He wrote literally hundreds of blues hits, including "Hoochie Coochie Man," "Little Red Rooster," "My Babe," and "I Just Wanna Make Love to You." He was house producer at Chess Records in Chicago during the golden age of Chicago blues. Yet most of his life, he was denied artistic recognition and songwriting royalties.

Q:  What are some of the books that have influenced you?

A:  I was inspired to write Pillars of the Earth, my most successful book, by a history book called The Cathedral Builders, by the late Jean Gimpel, who became my friend and table-tennis opponent. Jean's book was the first to tell about the ordinary men and women who built the great cathedrals, and that gave me the idea of writing a novel about them.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2004

    Mediocre Effort

    I've enjoyed several of his books, but this one seems to be a 'formula effort'. It's light, entertaining reading, but doesn't really grab you. The basic storyline seems a little dated, and certainly a bit strained for credibility. Somewhere underneath, there probably could have been a fascinating character study on Priest, as he develops into an egocentric cult leader, but the depth just isn't there. Too many phases are glossed over, entrusting that the reader will just take it for granted. Too bad.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2000

    Not a book I would recommend!

    The book was poorly written, characters were not developed and language was very shallow. Highly unrealistic in dialoge and plot

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2011

    Somewhat Formulaic but decent entertainment

    This is a formulaic read. It is also not Ken Follett's best output. However, it is entertaining and it is worth buying and reading. The Pillars of the Earth and The Eye of the Needle are fine novels, and Mr. Follett is a excellent writer and this book is worth your time.

    Wild but believable plot, interesting characters with some backstory but very little character growth outside of the love interest by the Federal agent.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2000

    Not Follet's Best, but still a good read

    This was a really great book. As all of Follet's are. As always, he develops the characters very well and gives all sides of the story. I did not find myself favoring the villain, namely 'Priest', in this book as with other Follet titles. The plot is a little extreme and hard to fathom, but still a relevant one in the modern society. Basically, a collective in California attempts to set earthquakes as a way to stop the government from destroying their land. This book was a page-turner to the end, and always another surprise. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Follet, but do not expect his absolute best. As far as novels go this one rates high, but not nearly as good as most of his other titles.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 24, 2012

    Follett's variety of subject matter amazes me.

    It was hard to put down!! I am looking for more Follett that I haven't read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2007

    Simple story for simple readers

    The story attracts attention but everyone must feel that there are too many coincidences, too many attractive girls and boys, etc.. I rate is as author's second worst book after Place called freedom.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 4, 2011

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    Posted September 18, 2011

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