Thursday September 26, 7PM Mystery
Mark Sullivan author of Labyrinth ($25.00, Pocket Books)

While earning enthusiastic reviews for his thrillers (The Purification Ceremony, etc.), Sullivan hasn't sold in really impressive numbers. His fourth novel could catapult him onto national bestseller lists, however, for not only is it expertly crafted, it's one of the most exciting yarns of this millennium. In an elaborate cave system in eastern Kentucky, a moon rock lies hidden. This rock has superconductivity, which, if harnessed, will solve the world's energy crises-that's why Robert Gregor, the young scientist who discovered its properties three years ago, killed his mentor, who threatened to claim the discovery for himself; Gregor then secreted the rock in the cave before he was captured by police.

Now it's 2007 and NASA, to train for a return to the moon to mine further superconductive moon rocks, is sponsoring a media-saturated expedition into the cave system, an expedition led by renowned caver Tom Burke and including his daughter, Cricket, 14, but not his wife, Whitney, an expert caver haunted by a recent foray into those caves that killed her companion. As the NASA expedition begins, Gregor, aided by a guard, escapes from prison with two tough cons and heads for the cave to retrieve the moon rock. Most of the novel's intense action takes place in the underground labyrinth, a fabulous otherworldly backdrop that Sullivan exploits brilliantly as he rotates his narration among Burke's party (soon captured by Gregor and his cohorts), a rescue team guided by the fearful Whitney and a third team of NASA scientists and U.S. military who plan to get the rock at any cost.

The novel is honeycombed with plot twists and cliffhangers, giving it a slightly contrived, Saturday matinee feel (and it'll make a terrific movie; Scott Rudin has optioned rights), but Sullivan's sensitively constructed characters give it weight and depth. This is a great summer read.

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