Zero Option

Zero Option

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by P. T. Deutermann
     
 

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They call it "Wet Eye": a biological weapon that literally eats out the eyes of its victims. Now, deep within the belly of the U.S. military establishment, one small silver canister of Wet Eye is missing-lost because a career pencil-pusher has cut a million-dollar deal and signed it in blood.

For David Stafford, a Defense Department investigator, finding the

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Overview

They call it "Wet Eye": a biological weapon that literally eats out the eyes of its victims. Now, deep within the belly of the U.S. military establishment, one small silver canister of Wet Eye is missing-lost because a career pencil-pusher has cut a million-dollar deal and signed it in blood.

For David Stafford, a Defense Department investigator, finding the missing canister means ripping through layers of cover-ups, bureaucracy, and one man's murderous determination to sell Wet Eye to an international arms dealer. But the military would rather silence Stafford than admit to a security breach. And now, the only person who can stop a biological conflagration is an innocent child-who has looked into the face of evil, and seen it with her own two eyes...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Deutermann's latest (after Sweepers) is a topnotch topical thriller bursting with the expected expertise and insider knowledge he picked up as a Navy captain and arms control specialist. It's also something else: an unexpectedly resonant portrait of people, good and bad, who have been chewed up and spit out by military and government bureaucracies. Both the hero (an unlucky military investigator named David Stafford, whose career has been short-circuited by whistle-blowing and whose personal life is a disaster), and the heavy (bumbling Army bean-counter and petty thief Wendell Carson) are carefully drawn and fully credible. So are the underlings, officers and FBI agents who thread through their lives. This becomes especially important when Stafford -- trying to track down a container of a deadly biological nerve gas that Carson has stolen from an Army base in Georgia -- crosses paths with a young girl who seems to have psychic powers. In less skilled hands, this rogue element could send the vehicle skittering. But Deutermann quickly gives the girl and her keepers (a mysteriously intriguing woman teacher, a protective small-town policewoman) such a strong presence that they become vital to the story's exciting, moving conclusion.
Library Journal
David Stafford, a federal "cop," gets banished to Atlanta for whistle-blowing. His assignment is to investigate possible fraud in selling off surplus government equipment. Stafford stumbles onto a much bigger and more lethal problem, which the army and the FBI are trying to hide. A cylinder of chemical and biological toxin is missing and thought to have been sent to the Atlanta surplus depot by mistake, but a midnight search by the army does not locate it. Has it been stolen? Will it be sold into terrorist hands? Stafford pieces together what happened and guesses who has the cylinder. His only proof is a teenage psychic who encountered the thief in passing at the airport. He must convince the army that what he knows is true, protect the psychic, and find the cylinder before it pops open. Well read by Dick Hill, a versatile and engaging performer, the story has a resolution that will disappoint those skeptical with regard to psychic power. It is, in any event, entertaining. Recommended.--Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island, Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Providence
Kirkus Reviews
Deutermann (Sweepers, 1997, etc.), a retired Navy captain who served the Joint Chiefs of Staff as an arms control specialist, returns in top form with this gripping tale of men caught up in a nasty business: selling germs.

Fort Gillem, near Atlanta, is not really a base but a kind of depot where the military rents or auctions off surplus mat�riel. Wendall Carson and Bud Lambry, who work there, have discovered a cylinder of Wet Eye (a deadly biological gas that eats the human eyeball back to the optic nerve) that has misguidedly shown up for destruction. Carson has made a secret deal to sell the gas for a cool million and, naturally, would rather not split it with Bud, who eventually falls into a metal-shredder while trying to stab Carson. Before Carson can move the gas, military investigator David Stafford is sent by his Washington office to Fort Gillem to look into the auction business. Stafford, a whistle-blower who has paid dearly for his naivet�, is persona non grata in D.C.; he has also lost a wife (to her boss) and an arm (to a stray bullet in a gas station holdup). To cover up Lambry's disappearance, Carson sets fire to Lambry's house. Meanwhile, when itþs discovered at the Wet Eye's original storage depot in Alabama that the cylinder is missing, all hell erupts: Apparently, the Wet Eye has a way of going through unfamiliar chemical changesþmutations. Carson decides to make his sale quick, though he knows that the cylinder is heating up. Then Gwen Warren, who runs a children's home, warns Stafford that one of her girls, a telepathic mute, has seen the cylinder in Carson's mind. Soon the Army starts a coverup of its own, and Stafford is on the runþtrying to protect himself, Gwen, and her telepath.

Solid, authentic detail that bolts each event to the next and creates an intensely plausible entertainmentþwith a leavening of telepathy for added pleasure.

From the Publisher
"Right out of today's headlines...a superior thriller." —American Way

"Top-notch...Exciting, moving...Bursting with the expected expertise and insider knowledge." —Publishers Weekly

"A gripping tale...Solid, authentic detail that bolts each event to the next and creates an intensely plausible entertainment." —Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250053718
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
09/15/1999
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
421
Sales rank:
440,692
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.20(d)

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