Rachel Sexton is the estranged daughter Senator Sedgewick Sexton, a presidential candidate who is more popular than incumbent President of the United States Zachary Herney. But she is also an Intelligence Analyst who works for the NRO. The Prez sends her to the Milne Ice Shelf to validate the findings made by NASA – a meteorite which struck the earth around 190 million years and embedded within an are insect fossils very similar to, but not the same as, species on earth. NASA claims this as proof of extraterrestrial life. The President also sends four leading civilian scientists (Michael Tolland, a famous oceanographer and TV personality; Corky Marlinson, a brilliant but eccentric astrophysicist; Norah Mangor, a prickly glaciologist and Wailee Ming, a palaeontologist) to the Arctic to verify the meteorite’s authenticity as unbiasedly as possible.
However a plot is soon discovered to fake the fossils (actually a recently found earth lifeform but not yet published) and that the powerful NRO director William Pickering is the mastermind behind it. He did it to hurt Senator Sexton’s campaign, protecting the American people in his eyes and also to boost the NASA supporting President’s chances of reelection. Sexton wants to cut NASA’s fundings and promises to spend more on education if elected President. However President Herney himself is unaware of this plot and genuinely believes that NASA has found authentic findings. Pickering has his small squad of black ops soldiers kill Dr. Ming & Dr. Mangor when a flaw in the data is discovered.
It is up to Rachel, Tolland & Marlinson to evade the NRO Director and his men and get the evidence of the fraud findings out to the public. Add to this mix is Gabrielle Ashe – Senator Sexton’s aide and former lover – who finds out that the Senator is selling out to private companies & plans to make space exploration go public. He has been accepting large sums of cash from the companies to fund his campaign. When she finds out this and the fact that she was being lied to by the Senator, Gabrielle decides to help Rachel expose the Senator. Marjorie Tench the Senior Adviser to the President is also killed when she comes close to finding the conspiracy that Pickering had set in place.
A good political & deception thriller, although not as good as the other 3 books of Dan Brown that I had read. Still a good real.