“‘I need planes in the air in the next half hour.’ The man on the other end had been given a head’s up to expect such a call, but like most everyone who’d been read-in on the Drone Theory, he’d probably assumed he’d never receive one.”

The Drone Theory in D.W. Maroney’s debut thriller Status: Missing (State of Mind Publishing) postulates that hostile foreign governments and terrorist factions could theoretically hack and reroute American flights, either with the intention of crashing or intercepting them. The theory arose following the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, and a task force was formed soon after.

The task force assembles when a plane is hijacked remotely. The pilot and crew do their best to save the flight, but without knowing who is in control of the plane, its trajectory is unknowable. Is it meant to crash, and if so, do the hijackers simply intend to “disappear” the plane—or do they want the wreckage to be found? Who’s behind the attack, and what are they after?

The novel’s heroine, Megan Sloan, a spunky US Air Force Intelligence officer who’s held her heart close to her chest ever since surviving a failed field mission in 2011, is one of the task force members unexpectedly called into action to save the plane. When a second plane loses control and is rerouted from Guam to North Korea, an already tense situation escalates for Megan.

Megan has two significant stakes in this mission. First, she needs to prove to herself that she can save lives and make difficult decisions under pressure. Additionally, her ex-boyfriend Liam Donovan is one of the passengers aboard the second flight. He still carries a torch for her, and she sometimes thinks about him despite herself.

Complicating an already complicated assignment, this flight is carrying high-ranking officers with Intelligence information that they would die before giving over to the North Koreans. As the pilot on this flight says himself: “‘Unless we can bring this thing down safely on our own, we’re all going for one last swim.’”

D.W. Maroney has set up an impossible situation for her protagonist: letting the plane fall into North Korean hands is not an option. Neither is letting the passengers, which include Liam, die either by self-sacrifice or North Korean sabotage. As the clock ticks away in this thriller, the potential consequences are personal as well as geopolitical.

In addition to Megan Sloan, the novel is told from the POV of a full cast of supporting characters. These range in rank from regular commercial airplane pilots to the President of the United States himself—and the Supreme Leader of North Korea Choi Min-ho, a fictional stand-in for Kim Jong-Un who’s even more unhinged than the real thing.

Status: Missing is now available.

 

About D.W. Maroney

As a young student living in the suburbs of Dallas at the time of the Kennedy assassination D.W. Maroney grew up on a steady diet of conspiracy theories. To this day, D.W. still loves a good mystery and believes the truth of any event lies somewhere between the eyewitness accounts and the historical retelling. D.W. admits to being the only student who paid attention when the school librarian explained the use of the card catalog and other research materials. Where others saw only tedium, D.W. saw clues that would lead to fascinating facts hidden within the tomes and periodicals lining the shelves. During downtime, D.W. enjoys sorting through piles of musty old papers, scouring the depths of the internet, and looking for the one thing everyone else has overlooked.