Minutes to Burn


The year is 2007. The sun burns skin to a crisp in minutes because of the depleted ozone layer. Powerful earthquakes and monstrous hurricanes wrack the western hemisphere, igniting violent outbreaks of rioting throughout South America. Two scientists volunteer to position critical tectonic equipment on Sangre de Dios, a deserted island in the Calápagos. A ragtag squad of Navy SEALs is dispatched to escort the scientists safely to the island. As the stunned scientists and soldiers stumble upon an ecological ...
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New York 2001 Hardcover 1st Edition New in New jacket Book. Signed by Author(s) Hardcover. Book Condition: NEW and UNREAD. Jacket Condition: NEW and Mylar Protected. 1st ... Edition/1st Printing. SIGNED, DATED & INSCRIBED: 11th August, 2001 "Evolution is alive and well..." by Greg Hurwitz on the Full Title Page. Publisher's Promotional Bookmark Laid In. Read more Show Less

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The year is 2007. The sun burns skin to a crisp in minutes because of the depleted ozone layer. Powerful earthquakes and monstrous hurricanes wrack the western hemisphere, igniting violent outbreaks of rioting throughout South America. Two scientists volunteer to position critical tectonic equipment on Sangre de Dios, a deserted island in the Calápagos. A ragtag squad of Navy SEALs is dispatched to escort the scientists safely to the island. As the stunned scientists and soldiers stumble upon an ecological mystery in the island's haunted Scalesia forest, they find themselves within a vicious, predatory battle for the survival of the fittest that could affect the entire planet.
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Editorial Reviews

Barbara Parker
Will kidnap your imagination from the first heart-pounding scene. —National bestselling author of Suspicion of Betrayal
James Thayer
Hurwitz's crew in Minutes to Burn are the hardest, orneriest, funniest soldiers since The Dirty Dozen. The novel has a breakneck drive, chilling realism, and graveyard tension. Hang on to your hat.
Jan Burke
Get ready to stay up all night—Gregg Andrew Hurwitz is about to take you on a rollercoaster ride to a fierce and unforgiving near future. Action-adventure and thriller fans, take note—if you want to read someone who writes with the intelligence of Crichton, the military tech know-how of Clancy, and the spine-tingling intensity of Koontz, allow me to introduce you to Gregg Andrew Hurwitz—you're going to love Minutes to Burn.
Orlando Sentinel
Races along.
Richard Marcinko
Gregg Andrew Hurwitz captures the warrior spirit of the past and takes us to a future where science unleashes discoveries that society has yet to comprehend. This "new breed" of SEALs overcome their personal vulernabilities to do what has always been and will always be paramount...Complete The Mission!
Robert Crais
Part Michael Crichton techno-thriller, part James Cameron monster movie, and all Gregg Andrew Hurwitz page-turner, Minutes to Burn is a great good time of a read! The science is fascinating, the story is exciting, and the plot moves with the unstoppable precision of a SEAL team mounting an assault. Buy this book and bring it to the beach...but read it in the shade.
At the top of the thriller genre.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Attorney-turned-novelist Grippando's (Under Cover of Darkness; Found Money) sixth effort kicks off when Matthew Rey, a Florida fisherman with a partnership in a Nicaraguan seafood operation, is kidnapped while on business in Colombia by a group of Marxist guerrillas led by a sadistic soldier named Joaqu n. Matthew is dragged off to the mountains and his son, Nick, a young Florida lawyer, receives a ransom demand and tries to get his father back through official channels. Bad move: it turns out Matthew and his partner, Guillermo Cruz, are under suspicion of running drugs. Nick also learns that Matthew had kidnap-and-ransom insurance for the precise amount demanded by Joaqu n. To make matters worse, the insurance provider is a client of Nick's law firm, and refuses to pay the claim, accusing Nick and Matthew of conspiracy and fraud. Nick is legally outmaneuvered by his boss scheming senior partner Duncan Fitz and booted out of the firm. Broke, desperate and under suspicion of several felonies, he receives help from beautiful kidnapping negotiator Alex Cabrera and his ex-fianc e, Jenna, who's also a lawyer. Naturally, he finds himself torn between his lost love and his growing affection for the mysterious Alex. Meanwhile, Matthew is a helpless witness to scenes of gang rape, torture and murder perpetrated by Joaqu n and his thugs. Outflanked and running out of time, Nick delves into his father's business dealings and slowly uncovers a massive conspiracy. Grippando's experience as a trial lawyer shows in his depiction of Nick's frantic legal moves to clear his family's name; his extensive research into the kidnapping industry currently thriving in Latin America adds a harrowing dose of realism to a taut, well-constructed page-turner that seems destined for the big screen. Agents, Richard and Artie Pine. National advertising; six-city author tour. (May 14) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Lawyer Nick Rey's father is kidnapped while on a business trip to Colombia. No one wants to cooperate in freeing him: not the State Department, not the FBI, not the insurance company from which he purchased kidnap and ransom insurance. Nick is on his own except for the help of beautiful Alex, a professional negotiator. It's an interesting, timely, and well-constructed plot. Unfortunately, the characters are flat: Nick and his family are good and innocent to the point of being irritating, while the villains are a completely brutal and evil bunch. Narrator John B. Lloyd is also irritating, particularly his heavy accent when portraying Hispanic characters. A marginal purchase for most libraries. Christine Valentine, Davenport Univ., Kalamazoo, MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Navy SEALs go to the Galapagos to battle anything that moves in a rousing actioner reminiscent of Jurassic Park, The Dirty Dozen, Lord of the Flies, and maybe even Beowulf. In the year 2007, hurricanes and earthquakes are making life miserable throughout the Western Hemisphere. Two scientists are dispatched to Sangre de Dios in the Galapagos Islands to mount instruments that will help track the canes and quakes. But they can't do it alone. Enter a half-dozen SEALs, half-soiled if not actually dirty, to assist and protect the scientists, then see them home safely once the mission is completed. And what an infelicitous mix of trained SEALs it is, ranging from the brave, admirable, pregnant Cameron Kates to the wild, woolly, and aptly named William Savage. At the outset, the SEALs regard this mission as a cakewalk, almost not worth getting their game-faces on for. Soon enough, however, they learn that Nature is never to be underrated. First, a hellish aftershock maroons them. Next, they discover that a new strain of ecological virus, a baby bubonic plague as it were, is running rampant on Sangre de Dios. Unsettling stuff, clearly, but nothing compared to that band of mantids: monstrous, man-eating, nine-foot-tall insects produced by a series of unfortunate biological mutations. Pressure builds, the SEALs snarl at each other, and a mini-mutiny breaks out, while the murderously intelligent mantids stalk and make terrible inroads among them. Cameron, however, keeps on keeping on, bravely and admirably ignoring her physical limitations and eventually triumphing the way all right-thinking readers will want her to. Vivid cast, engrossing story. Hurwitz (The Tower, 1999) demonstrates onceagain that he's a thriller writer to be reckoned with.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060188863
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregg Hurwitz
Gregg Hurwitz

GREGG HURWITZ is the author of a number of critically acclaimed thrillers, including Trust No One and The Crime Writer. International bestsellers, his novels have been finalists for several awards, including the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger and the ITW Best Novel of the Year awards. He lives in Los Angeles, California. Visit him on the web at www.gregghurwitz.net.

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Read an Excerpt

Minutes to Burn

Chapter One

15 Nov 07

A faint cry carried into the house, distracting Ramón Lopez Estrada from the plate of fried pork. He froze, fork raised halfway to his mouth. The noise had probably come from the livestock pens at the edge of his property, across the rows of crops. It was slightly different than the usual, restless mooing of the cows -- it was more like a frightened whinny. Dismissing it to the wind, he took a bite and loaded up another generous forkful. He ate hungrily; he'd worked on his farm from sunup until dusk, clearing another section of forest to free the volcanic soil for crops.

Soil was a rarity in Galápagos, islands formed of basaltic lava. It took hundreds of years for the barren rock to soften, turning to brick-red clay as its iron oxidized, then to topsoil as roots and rain intervened. Over millennia, dense Scalesia pedunculata forests emerged and flourished, the trees stretching as high as twenty meters in the air. Only the most elevated regions of the highest islands had undergone the process in its entirety, catching clouds that passed aloof and withholding over the scorched lowlands.

Floreana, her belly rounded beneath her apron, stopped behind Ramón and rubbed his aching shoulders. She paused to pluck a twig from his hair and tickled his cheek with it until he lovingly shooed her away.

They'd had one child already, a boy whom Ramón had sent to Puerto Ayora to find work and play. Ramón had chosen his boy's happiness over his own need for a second pair of hands around the farm, permitting him to discover life in the small port town on Santa Cruz. However, that meant more timefor Ramón in the fields, clearing the forest, building pens for his livestock, planting his crops with a meticulousness based on the seasons and his own islander's sense.

Because of the earthquakes, the supply ship had stopped passing by last month. Without any gasoline or oil, the town had slowed down, like a wind-up toy losing steam. The chainsaws no longer roared in the mornings, the gas stoves were used only as countertops, the houses fell dark after dusk-even Ramón prize tiller sat in the field collecting rust while he worked the ground with a spading fork.

Sangre de Dios had been a sparsely populated island to begin with, and the new conditions had driven the other farming families away. Though few had admitted it, many had also fled because of the strange things that had been happening around the island. Dogs and goats missing, changes in the behavior of the wildlife. The girls who used to live one farm over told stories about the tree monster with glistening fangs. And then Marco's little girl had gone missing. After a week of frantic searching, they'd given her up for dead, and Marco had taken his family and moved to the continent.

Ramón and Floreana were now living on a deserted island. In their haste to leave, one of the families had stolen their boat. But it didn't matter -- Floreana was too pregnant to travel anywhere until she delivered, and an oil tanker still passed by the island every other month.

Ramón finished his meal and pulled his wife into his lap. He groaned, pretending to be crushed by her weight. She laughed and pointed to her stomach. "This is your fault, you know," she said. Her voice was high and lively; she spoke a rapid, chattering Spanish with the accent of the Oriente, though she's been born in Galápagos. She'd been named for the island of her birth.

Ramón raised a hand to her cheek and leaned forward to kiss her, but Floreana playfully pushed him away, wiping a smudge of ají from his lip with her thumb and clearing his plate. She pointed to the stack of logs in the corner of the humble box of a house. Built of porous concrete blocks cemented with a thick, messy mortar, the walls were cracked and skewed by the numerous earthquakes that wracked the small island. A cooking fire danced in the hearth, which was little more than two absent blocks backed with plywood and opened to the Pacific air above.

Ramón groaned, lowering his head to the table with a thump. His fork and knife jangled. With a sigh, he rose and crossed to the fireplace. Picking up the ax, he twirled it as he stood a log on end on the dirt floor. Suddenly, a loud bleating split the air. Floreana dropped the plate, which shattered across the counter, and the ax slipped through Ramón hand, giving his index finger a deep nick. The bleating rounded out into a moan, and Ramón realized it was an animal bellowing in pain. The cry, an intensified version of the one he'd heard minutes before, was rife with panic. Instinctively, Floreana circled the table toward her husband, her eyes on the small hole of the window.

The sound was coming from the livestock pens, across the rows of crops. Ramón squeezed his wife reassuringly, but his hand was trembling. He stepped for the door, ax swinging by his side, blood curling around his finger and dripping to the floor.

The nights were growing warmer and the air outside was thick and moist. The garúa was settling into the peaks of the forest, crowning it with ribbons of mist. The cry came again, this time with more urgency, and Ramón imagined he felt it rattling through his bones. He passed through the low castor oil plants, the wide-leafed flowering guavas, the tall stands of placute;tanos. Beside him hung the bunches of fruit, hard-sheathed and ridged. He thought of the panicked looks in the eyes of his neighbors who had fled, the foolish stories that had been told around the village. The tall tales seemed more real in the darkness.

The cry elevated into an almost human scream, undulating unnaturally, Eke the wail of a child seized and shaken. Its pitch, except when wrenched high with pain, was low and broad, issuing from some large creature. There was more bleating, more sounds of struggle. Though the air was cool, Ramón felt his shirt clinging to his body, moist and limp. He tightened his grip on the ax, thinking of his over-under shotgun in the small house and cursing the ammunition shortage, and reached a hand out cautiously to part the fronds.

Something lay up ahead, wheezing in the tall grass of the westernmost livestock pen. A large creature, lost in the shadows, the darkness, and Ramón's own intoxicating fear, was retreating slowly to the brink of the forest. At least three meters tall, it seemed to walk upright like a man, the grass shushing around its swollen body. Unhurried, it reached the edge of the Scalesia forest and faded from sight.

A renewed cry brought Ramón's attention back to the injured beast. It was one of Ramón's favorites, a thick brown-and-white spotted cow. He stepped forward, trying to focus on her, but his mind Was slow and unresponsive, having followed the thick majestic creature through the mist and into the forest.

The cow bleated again, but its cries had none of the fearful edge of before. Its side was raked open in two diagonal strips, the torn flesh revealing a crushed tangle of ribs and tissue. Her breath rattled through the holes, fluttering the fur surrounding the gashes. Her hind leg was snapped back under her body, and her head rested at a painful angle to her neck, as if she'd been raised and dropped, or thrown a short distance in frustration.

As if something had bitten off more than it could chew.

Ramón lowered the ax to his side, breathing hard. There were no bears here, no large cats or crocodiles. As far as he knew, the largest natural predator in the entire archipelago was the Galápagos hawk.

The cow moaned and Ramón crouched over her, caressing her flank. Her mouth was sprayed with froth. He noticed that the back of her neck had been attacked, scraped or gnawed through to the thick plate of the scapula. The flesh was ribboned across the wound, glistening with blood and a foreign, clear, viscid liquid that looked like saliva. Ramón reached out and touched the wound, drawing his hand back sharply as pain shot through the cut on his index finger. He wiped the excess blood on his jeans and instinctively put his finger in his mouth to clear the wound. He spit into the grass, a red-lined glob thick with mucus, and rose.

The cow rustled in the grass, her head trembling above the ground. Ramón picked up the ax, again cursing the fact that there were no shells for his shotgun. With a nervous glance at the band of forest into which the large creature had vanished, he raised the ax back over one shoulder and swung downward at the cow's neck.

Minutes to Burn. Copyright © by Gregg Hurwitz. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2003

    Minutes to Burn

    I had high hopes for this book as it hits me in a sweet spot as book interests go. Unfortunately, I was very underwhelmed with the story. It took a long time to get moving - the first half of the book, and then when it did start to get a little interesting, the action was simplistic and unimaginative. I wanted more high-tech manuevers, more cool seal tactics - MORE INTERESTING ACTION!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2003

    Minutes to Burn

    I've read the other reviews here and must disagree with them. Minutes to Burn should have hit me right in the sweet spot of books that I enjoy reading. The first 200 pages of the book are character development and setting the stage. When you finally get to the action, it's fairly obvious and simplistic. I think the book would've been much better if the team had more options available. I say this to avoid exposing some of the storyline.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2001


    This is definitely not your average bug hunt. Hurwitz's writing is enough to give anyone the creeps, but you still won't be able to put down this book. Just remember, never trust anything with more than four legs!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2001


    Minutes To Burn is the second book I've read by Gregg Andrew Hurwitz and I am thoroughly impressed. There are a lot of authors out there who stick to the same theme in their books, but not this one. Hurwitz's first book, The Tower was a psychological thriller and he has now jumped to a science thriller involving Navy Seals and a phenonmenon none of us could imagine encountering. The characters in this book are fascinating, funny and at times brutal. This book is smart and fast paced. You won't want to put this one down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2001

    A frightening look at the future

    Minutes to Burn is a terrifying, articulate description of evolution gone wrong. The action packed scenes along with violent, yet interesting characters made this book a real page turner. The level of detail was great, and I really got a feel for the location and the distorted biology. A must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2001

    A thrilling page-turner!

    Minutes to Burn is a fast-paced, intelligent glimpse into the near future. Somtimes frightening, sometimes humorous with a biting edge, Hurwitz clearly has a gift for spinning a good scientific adventure tale. From the opening description of a cow being killed by a mysterious creature, I was hooked. The group of Navy SEALS are well developed and even the women characters are well written. The book was obvioulsy thoroughly researched and covers a broad range of topics...making it appealing for a wide range of readers. The frenetic pace, set against the altered ecosystem makes for an exciting read. This work can be compared to that of Crichton, particularly to Jurassic Park. As in his last book, Hurwitz is a very visual writer, and you can just imagine the story unfolding on the big screen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2009

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