Hugh Ryan’s job might not be glamorous, but it is important. In the near future, Brussels has developed a highly sophisticated traffic network. Computers route cars around congestion. Huge parking elevators keep cars below ground and yet easily accessible. Efficient trains and a subway system move hundreds of thousands of people to their jobs. When roads fill, computers send cars to another route. When too many become congested, the same computers send the cars to the rapid transit centers. And Hugh, along with a small number of fellow workers, controls the entire system.
When things start to go bad, Hugh springs into action–and the system does its best to self-repair. But the system was never designed to deal with simultaneous toxic truck wrecks in every major intersection, power failure in the subway, the collapse of the train system, and malfunctions in the parking elevators that turn the entire city into a stationary parking lot. Hugh isn’t surprised with the call comes in–a terrorist organization is holding the entire city, including heads of state from all of Nato, for ransom.
Reading between the lines of the terrorist threat, Hugh realizes that someone in his own transport agency is somehow involved–and sets out to find who did it. What follows is an action-packed adventure with plenty of plot twists and even a touch of romance.
Author Gerard Readett makes his near-future traffic scenario feel real and interesting. Hugh, with his lost wife and anti-establishment tendencies, makes a sympathetic protagonist and Readett mixes in just enough scenes from those caught up in the disaster–and from the point of view of the criminals and terrorists who combine to take the city captive–to make the action seem real. I wish Readett had relied a bit less on coincidence in putting Hugh in just the right place to do so much against the terrorist threat, but that’s a minor quibble with a really fascinating story.
Being in a traffic jam takes on a new meaning in ROADWORKS. Set in the year 2022, this high tech thriller creates innovative architecture, a Traffic Management Centre (TMC), subterranean parking structures, and a whole lot of problems for Brussels, Belgium, in which the roadways have been set up like the spokes of a wagon wheel.
Everything runs smoothly with the TMC keeping track of any minor emergency on the Metro, parking structures, or highway. TMC can easily re-route vehicles to other less congested travel patterns. However, there are sixteen entry points to the center of the city, and when terrorists block them, the roadway is literally a parking lot. Very few people can get to work, but fortunately, our hero Hugh Ryan, a Transport Authority Controller, always arrives a little before 7:00 AM, so he is on the job when the problems begin.
There are multiple villains with the access to shut down the city or blow up buildings, and they do both. Each is revealed, but not until the end do all of the pieces fall into place.
This is one of the most creative situations I have run across in a thriller, and all too familiar because of the traffic jams. I know just how irritated and anxious people are when stuck in traffic, and because I know, this book brought my own emotions into the story.
From Prologue to ending, this is an excellent read.
The year is 2022 and the world’s leaders meet for a summit in Brussels Belgium. This city’s transportation system, a highly automated combination of auto, rail, and bus systems, is the envy of the world. Hugh Ryan, a Transport Authority controller for the system, comes to work one day preparing to train a new employee when suddenly multiple systems begin to fail. Automated parking garages crush cars backing up traffic, the rail system shuts down stranding passengers, and when multiple tanker trucks explode on the major highways, Hugh learns not only is the city in gridlock, but that terrorists have taken control of the system and are holding the city hostage. Hugh, with his unique knowledge, finds himself at the center of solving a major international terrorist plot. But can he do it in time?
Gerard Readett’s Roadworks is a refreshingly original thriller featuring a very unlikely public works employee turned hero. While place in the not so distant future, the automated systems are within the realm of possibility and the Readett’s main character is so real that it is easy for the reader to get quickly engaged in the story. Readett does an excellent job of weaving multiple plot lines of greed, deceit, terrorism, and politics which keeps the reader guessing throughout.
Roadworks is a fast-paced, engaging, read. It’s futuristic but not sci-fi. Readett also conveys a compelling world message which is not at all over the top but rather seamlessly connects the opening prologue to the final chapter’s resolution. Pick up a copy, you won’t be disappointed.