In present-day Washington, DC a brilliant, tech-savvy madman with an agenda has concocted a labyrinthine trail of terrorism with an FBI special agent named Kate Morgan at the end. It appears he wants her dead.

By page 3 of Dan Grant’s Thirteen Across (MindScape Press), Agent Morgan is crawling over body parts to escape a subway train wreck, fire sucking up the air and sending sparks and white-hot shards of Plexiglas into the melee. People are screaming and dying and being carted out in various stages of survival.  Miraculously, Morgan emerges with a few cuts and bruises and a torn blouse.

She was on her way to a congressional hearing where she’d been summarily summoned, most certainly already in big trouble with the federal government. She didn’t need an underground fiasco on the way, nor did she need the cops to find a briefcase with her name on it shoved under a bench at the subway station.

Inside was a page of human skin, tattooed with the first of seven sets of clues, sending the FBI, the Army, and Special Agent Morgan on a grisly chase.

Much of this macabre scavenger hunt takes place underground in creepy abandoned tunnels, bunkers, and vaults equipped with power and ventilation, a choice of location that sent me to the internet to see if there is indeed a secret network of tunnels under our nation’s capitol.

There is. Mr. Grant has done his research. Snaking underneath the city, connecting federal buildings and beyond, there’s a system of tunnels that have over the years acted as an aqueduct, transportation alternative, sewer, board rooms, and an emergency fallout shelter for government officials. Incidentally, President Johnson refused to set foot in the fallout shelter, saying he would not hide in a (insert Johnsonian epithet) hole while the rest of his country burned up.

It is in these tunnels, bunkers, and crypts, under bridges and churches and capitol streets, that Agent Morgan and the cast of characters surrounding our heroine struggle with the riddles that psychopath Philip Barnes has left for them.

Never always completely sure who the good guys and the bad guys are, who’s sleeping with whom, or even who is alive or really dead, I started to get attached to the agents and soldiers assigned to help her while getting schooled in military jargon, acronyms, weaponry, and technology.

Technology especially. Drones, driverless vehicles, hacking, and sonic whistles that can kill, I was okay with, but a device that can send a voice into someone’s brain?  By this time, however, Grant had won me over.

I hate to reveal too much in a review, but the book cover itself told me about the secret research in eugenics, which accounted for the superhuman powers in some of the characters and which made Agent Morgan’s race against time that much harder – and that much more unnerving.

 

About Dan Grant

In life, Dan has taken the road less traveled. Crossroads have been faced with a mix of apprehension and an explorer’s passion. But the paths people take help make us who we are. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail,” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

He developed storytelling aspirations as an undergraduate in college at Northern Arizona University, when writing was counter to completing a degree in electrical engineering. Yet, engineering provided the good fortune to work on intriguing medical and military projects, and those behind the scenes experiences allowed him to bookmark “what if” scenarios and ask questions to a variety of deeper storylines.