The intelligent espionage thriller is alive and well in the capable hands of former war games programmer Bonnie Ramthun. Like Evelyn Anthony and Helen MacInnes, Ramthun creates believable situations using everyday people caught up in extraordinary, world-altering events. Ground Zero is exciting and sure to spark your interest for exploring other espionage novels.
It's a computer age spin on ye olde locked room mystery that newcomer Ramthun trots out. This particular locked room belongs to Terry Guzman, a war-games programmer at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springsand the lethal screwdriver sticking out of her gorgeous back belongs to one of her seven colleagues. No one else would have had the opportunity. And, of course, it's not immediately apparent to Detective Eileen Reed how any of them, lacking keys, lacking ectoplasm, could have passed through Guzman's thoroughly locked door. The crime occurred during a hush-hush, high-tech game, featuring all manner of anti-everything defense systems. The suspicious seven (the "gamers") were each supposed to be pushing buttons in individual computer rooms while virtual enemies mounted furious attacks on virtual US. But one of them hated Guzman enough to plan and commit a very unvirtual murder. Actually, all of them hated Guzman, Detective Reed ascertains almost immediately, since the late programmer was one of those despicable people for whom gratuitous cruelty is an end in itself. Time for Detective Reed to buckle down to serious ratiocination. If she can answer the how, she feels, she'll know the who. Soon, however, there are additional questions, equally perplexing. Could Guzman's murder be connected to a sudden spate of other murders, in turn connected to the nation's defense effort? The CIA seems to think so. Well, then, is a cover-up in the works? Smart, plucky, Detective Reed sifts, sorts, and solves her case with such commendable efficiency that she even has time for an affair of the heart. Brisk and businesslike until about the three-quarter mark when it slows down, mostly for thesake of the goopy love story. On balance, though, a creditable debut.