The cloud of coal dust driven deeply into his lungs nearly caused Howard Reed to pull his mail truck off the road and throw up onto the stunted, burnt grass. But he coughed and spat and tightened his gut. Reed worked the accelerator and raced past the haul roads where dump trucks lumbered across, spewing black grit into the air like burning confetti. That same air was filled with sulfur dioxide because a coal waste pile had caught on fire, as they often did. These elements would drift up into the sky, react with oxygen to form sulfur trioxide, and then clamp onto water molecules to create a potent compound that would later fall back to earth as toxic acid rain. None of it was a trusty recipe for environmental harmony.
Reed kept his hand tightly on the special mechanism, and his eighteen-year-old
Ford Explorer with the rattling tailpipe and shuddering transmission stayed on the cracked asphalt. His mail truck was his personal vehicle and had been modified to allow him to sit in the passenger seat and pull up flush to the mailboxes on his route. This was accomplished in part by an apparatus that looked like the fan belt in a car. It allowed him to steer, brake, and accelerate from the right side of the car.
After becoming a rural mailman and learning to drive from the “wrong” side of the vehicle, Reed had wanted to travel to England and try his newfound skill on the roads there, where every motorist drove on the left. He had learned that this dated back to the days of the jousters. Most folks were right-handed, and back then a man wanted to keep his sword or jousting pole closest to his enemy. His wife told him he was an idiot and would most likely end up dead in a foreign land.
He moved past the mountain, or where the mountain had once been before the Trent Mining and Exploration Company had blown it up in order to get to the buried rich coal seams. Large tracts of the area looked like the surface of the moon now, cratered and denuded. It was a process called surface mining. To Reed a better term was surface annihilation.
But this was West Virginia, and coal provided the bulk of the good-paying jobs. So Reed didn’t make a fuss about his home being flooded by a fly ash sludge storage pond giving way. Or about well water that turned black and smelled like rotten eggs. Or about air that was routinely full of things that did not mix well with human beings. He didn’t complain about his remaining kidney or his damaged liver and lungs from living around such toxic elements. He would be viewed as anti-coal and thus anti-jobs. Reed just didn’t need the added grief.
This is an excerpt from ZERO DAY by David Baldacci. Copyright © 2011 by Columbus Rose, Ltd. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
Bestselling author David Baldacci has delivered white-knuckle thrillers, enigmatic characters and thought-provoking ideas since he first burst on the literary scene with Absolute Power, from the eccentric conspiracy theorists of The Camel Club to the hardened covert agents of the A. Shaw series. Now, in Zero Day, he introduces us to perhaps his most intriguing protagonist yet—a reclusive combat vet with a talent for sniffing out the truth.
Special Agent John Puller is a loner with few possessions and fewer friends. What he does have is an indomitable spirit, one that’s served him well on the battlefield, and that’s made him the best of the best in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigative Division (CID). In Zero Day, this spirit will be tested to the fullest. A family has been brutally murdered, and Puller has been called in because the husband was in the Army and the wife worked as a contractor for the Pentagon. The local homicide detective isn’t happy with Puller’s involvement in the case, but she’s not his only problem. The people in this small town are not what they seem. Now, far from any military outpost, he’s truly one man against an overwhelming force. And things are about to get ugly….
Hardcover Book : 448 pages
Publisher: Hachette Book Group Usa ( October 31, 2011 )
Item #: 13-429841
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 1.01inches
Product Weight: 16.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I thoroughly enjoyed Zero Day. I'm a huge fan of Jack Reacher and Puller reminds me of him a lot. The book was very enjoyable and I hope there are more Puller books to come. I have read the two books available now and both are great!
Reviewer: Carolyn R
I too, saw a lot of Jack Reacher in this book. But.. I feel that John Puller is a little more well rounded as a person. I liked the book very much although, I too, felt it was a little long winded.
I have the next John Puller book on my nightstand and I'm looking forward to it. I hope there are more to come. I like this character very much.
Not Baldacci's best, in my opinion, but good. Another one of those page turners you have to continue to the end.
Reviewer: Jackie K
I don't read Lee Child novels so I don't know if John Puller is a duplicate or not. What I do know is that this book is interesting and full of excitement through the very last page. I love shorter chapters because they are easier to read and keep you moving to the next one. I get bored with long chapters in a book. It's harder to read. I have all of Baldacci's novels and love everyone of them. Great book!
Reviewer: Beth H
The book is about 100 pages to long. The chapters are too short. Baldacci makes them short and leaves just enough
unfinished story to tempt you to read the next chapter. Overall I enjoyed it. I liked the setting. Having read and seen stories about West Virginia and how the mine companies
are destroying it, Baldacci was spot on.