The Ark Storm is coming—a catastrophic weather event that will unleash massive floods and wreak more damage on California than the feared "Big One". One man wants to profit from it. Another wants to harness it to wage jihad on American soil. One woman stands in their way: Dr. Gwen Boudain, a brave and brilliant meteorologist.
When Boudain notices that her climate readings are off the charts, she turns to Gabriel Messenger for research funding. Messenger's company is working on a program that ionizes water molecules to bring rain on command. Meanwhile, Wall Street suits notice that someone is placing six-month bets on the prospect of an utter apocalypse and begin to investigate. Standing in the shadows is journalist Dan Jacobsen, a former Navy SEAL. War hardened, cynical, and handsome, Jacobsen is a man with his own hidden agenda.
Linda Davies's Ark Storm brings together the worlds of finance, scientific innovation, and terrorism in a fast-paced thrill ride that will leave listeners gasping.
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
LINDA DAVIES is a graduate in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Oxford University, and worked for seven years an as investment banker before escaping to write novels. Davies's first novel, Nest of Vipers, has been published in more than thirty countries, selling over two million copies. She is also a winner of the Philip Geddes Prize for journalism. Davies is married with three children. She lives by the sea in Suffolk.
Read an Excerpt
By Linda Davies
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2014 Linda Davies
All rights reserved.
HURRICANE POINT, CALIFORNIA, MONDAY, 6:00 A.M.
The wave came silently, like a killer in the pellucid light of dawn. Huge and beautiful and murderous. Come and get me. C'mon, let's see if you can. She could see the swell, bigger than those that had gone before. Maybe a twelve- to fourteen-footer, with a likely twenty- five-foot face. Massive. At the outer limits of a wave that she could surf without a Jet Ski tow-in. Her heart began to race as she lay down on her board, reached out long, powerful arms, and paddled hard She could see the wave in front explode in a frenzy of white water. She could no longer see the monster behind her, gaining on her, rising up behind her, opening its maw, but she could feel it. It raised her up, terrifyingly high. No backing out now. Paddle for your life, harder, faster.
She grabbed the board, snapped to her feet as the wave took her, propelled her down its gnarly face. She balanced, knees bent low, arms outstretched, warrior pose, riding it, wild with glee, high on adrenaline. She skimmed down the face, muscling the board against the yank of hundreds of tons of water. She rode into the barrel, into the unearthly blue, into the moment when time stopped and the universe was just you and the barrel and the roaring in your ears. And then time started again and the barrel was closing, just one split second of escape remaining. She ducked right down, shot out of the barrel, flipped up over the back of the wave. Feet still planted on her board, she flew through air, over water, riding the two elements. Conquering them. This time. Her spirit sang and she yelled out loud. No one to hear her. She surfed alone, breaking the surfer's code. Just the woman and the sea with the gulls screaming and soaring and bearing their wild witness.
* * *
The gulls watched her paddle round to the quiet water, where the waves did not form up to do battle. They watched her paddle in, walk from the water, sun-bleached hair falling down her back: golden skin, freckle-flecked over the patrician nose, which was a shade too long, saving her from mere prettiness. They watched her glance back at the sea, a look of reckoning, part gratitude, part triumph, part relief.
Always the fear, underneath it all. Only the fool did not feel it. Gwen felt it dissipate as she ran up the beach, board under her arm. Death swam alongside the huge waves, every surfer knew that. It was part of the kick, risking your life. The euphoria of survival was her reward. She felt it sweep through her, filling up the empty parts, washing away the doubts. Now she was ready to take them on, to play the games of man. And win again.CHAPTER 2
HURRICANE POINT, CALIFORNIA, ONE WEEK EARLIER
It had begun like a normal day, then the phone rang. Joaquin Losada in Peru.
"Chica. You up?"
"I am now," replied Gwen, rubbing her eyes, squinting at her alarm clock: 7:00 A.M. She'd been up till three, hitting the tequila with her childhood friend Lucy and her Tae Kwon Do trainer Dwayne and a few of his fellow ex-Navy-SEAL buddies who were about to go off on a trip and were determined to send themselves off in style. The thought that they would soon be boarding a ship while she got to remain on dry, unpitching land made her feel marginally better.
"Switch on your computer. Check the readings!" came Joaquin's high-pitched voice. It was always high, in a deliciously camp way, but this morning it sounded like nails on a blackboard.
Gwen cautiously swung her legs out of bed, pulled the alpaca blanket around her, walked through to the sitting room, and turned on her computer.
"I'm checking," she said, trying to focus on the flickering figures as the screen came to life. She twiddled the green jade and gold ring she wore on her middle finger, spinning it round and round in place as she read and then reread the figures.
"Jeez! These temperature readings are off the scale for September. Are the sensors faulty?"
"My first thought. Something's been going on here with the readings for the past two weeks. I didn't say anything before 'cause it was just too weird, wanted to give it time to revert."
"It didn't revert. The temperatures just keep rising. So, either the sensors are faulty or the model has a glitch or we got one hell of a Niño building."
"We did think it was going to be big." Gwen got up, crossed into her kitchen, filled a mug with water, downed it. Drips ran down her lips to her chest, dampening her white vest top.
"Gwen, there is big and there is truly humongous. All sorts of weird shit is going on here. We've had blasting sun, high summer sun, and we're just into Spring down here. We've had torrential rain, and freakish waves. We've lost fifteen sensors in the past fortnight."
"Shoot! And you think waves have smashed them? They're meant to withstand extreme waves."
"Try telling them that. They're at the bottom of the ocean, my guess, smashed to bits. I've been out in the boat looking for them. No trace. And let me tell you, I didn't want to linger out there, but I forced myself to search. Sea has a weird feeling. Strange color, darker than normal, and there's almost an electric feel to it. Hot as hell."
"I know it, like before a hurricane hits." Gwen paused, asked the question that she never wanted to ask, but which hovered between them, always, unspoken, a nightmare subjugated. "Joaquin, it is the waves, isn't it? It's not, well, you know ...?" Her voice trailed off.
"Sabotage? Persuasion? The Narco Shitfaces? Chica, I hope not. I really hope not, but I don't think so. I'm on the lookout. I'm always on the lookout, but I've seen nothing. No one. They don't know about us. Far as everyone in Punta Sal is concerned, I'm just another dolphin freak cameraman who likes fishing. I go out in my fishing boat, no one gives a shit."
"Keep looking out, Joaquin. I brought you into this."
"Hey, I'm a big boy, and I will look out before you nag the cojones off me, but Gwen, chica, listen up. What's here in my face scaring the shit out of me is the freakin' weather. Something serious is brewing and this is our big chance, Oracle's big chance to predict it." Joaquin's voice had risen what sounded like a full octave.
"Okay. I'm there." Gwen sat down at her desk, looked at the figures again. Numbers don't lie. Logic said it was waves destroying the buoys. She blew out a breath. "So what do we need?"
"More sensors, the toughened ones. More buoys, ditto."
"The expensive ones," observed Gwen, knuckling her pounding temples. "How many do we need?"
"Forty!" exclaimed Gwen, mind furiously calculating the cost. "Jeez, Joaquin, that'll cost nearly half a million dollars. I don't have that kind of money. Fact is, I have almost nothing."
"Then chica, it's time to quit hiding. You gotta get out there, sell a share in Oracle, raise some serious plata, and fast."CHAPTER 3
HURRICANE POINT HOUSE, ONE WEEK LATER, MONDAY MORNING, 8:00 A.M.
Gwen slid into her Mustang. She turned the key in the ignition, smiled. Thirty years old, the car still roared like a big cat.
She drove slowly down the dirt track, turned onto Highway 1, and snaked along, following the line of the precipitous cliffs. God, she loved this view: the endless blue of the ocean, the serried lines of hump-backed waves, the distant profile of the Big Sur lighthouse, the towering majesty of the Bixby Bridge spanning the canyon below, the parade of cypress trees at Soberanes Point. It was home, had been for a long time, but she had the treasured knack of seeing it with a stranger's eyes and gasping at it.
After about thirty-five minutes she turned inland along the Carmel Valley Road. The sun grew stronger, making her squint, and she nearly missed the turnoff to Laureless Ranch. "Drive past the ranch house," the Big Shot's PA had said, "and keep going for four hundred yards. You can't miss us."
She saw what the woman had meant. The square boxlike two-story granite and glass building looked like an alien spaceship had plucked it from Silicon Valley and deposited it randomly in Carmel Valley.
How the hell did they get zoning, she wondered, stepping from the Mustang. She smoothed down the wrinkles on her black linen trousers, pulled the black tank top down to cover her bare skin, blew out a slow breath. No turning back now. Too much at stake to fail.
She strode up to the locked doors, spoke into an intercom. Aware that she was being monitored by discreet CCTV, she gazed back coolly.
"Gwen Boudain for Dr. Messenger." Her voice was slow, easy, all California surfer girl drawl.
"Come right on in," said an almost robotically metallic voice that miraculously still managed to sound friendly. With an audible click, the doors buzzed open.
A short, middle-aged woman with a thatch of dark-auburn frizzy hair and deep worry lines hurried toward Gwen.
"Hi, Dr. Boudain. We spoke on the phone. I'm Mandy, Dr. Messenger's PA. He's waiting. Corner office. Over there by the ficus tree."
"Thanks," said Gwen. She squared her shoulders, shook back her hair and strode across the office. Her posture, straight-backed, head held high, made her look even taller than her six feet.
She was conscious of heads turning; ignored them.
"Who's the fox?" she heard someone ask.
"That fox," Gwen heard Mandy say, "is Doctor Gwen Boudain. And more like a cat, you ask me, with those witchy green eyes."
Gwen stifled a grin, wondered what animal they'd come up with next.
She paused in front of a steel door, knocked hard, walked in. Two men broke off their conversation and looked up speculatively. They were sitting opposite each other across a polished walnut desk bare of all but a phone and a desktop computer. Control freak, thought Gwen immediately, eyeing the man behind the desk. He stood, reached out a hand. Six foot two, the spare frame and hard-planed, tanned features of the athlete and the bright, unwavering eyes of the visionary. Brilliant blue, in his case. Hair shorn to his head — to conceal incipient baldness or just for efficiency and image's sake, Gwen couldn't tell. He wore exquisitely cut gray trousers and a crisply ironed lime-green, open-necked shirt.
"Dr. Boudain! I'm Gabriel Messenger," he announced. No smile, all business. Messenger squeezed Gwen's hand. A bone crusher. Gwen squeezed it right back.
He smelled of citrus — some high-end aftershave — and fresh air.
"This is Peter Weiss," said Messenger, gesturing to the other man. Weiss was on the short side of medium, slight in build, with the paunch and hunch of the computer addict.
"Peter is Falcon Capital's uber techie," added Messenger.
Weiss pushed himself up from his chair. If Messenger were day, observed Gwen, this man was night. A hint of a spicy cigar smoke emanated from him. He wore head-to-toe black: t-shirt, shirt worn loose over it, trousers, suede slip-ons. He sported a close-cropped goatee beard, somewhat thin, as if growing it were a struggle. His eyes, red-veined and fiercely intelligent, had a feline tilt to them, and his soft, straight black hair made Gwen wonder if he had some Chinese blood.
"Good to meet you, Dr. Gwen," said Weiss, with a warm smile and a gentle handshake.
They moved to a circular table by the window. Messenger bid them sit. Angled blinds cut out the sun's glare.
"OK. Tell us why you're here," said Messenger, squaring his elbows on the table, leaning toward Gwen, unwavering gaze fixed on her.
His English, spoken with a crisp Germanic accent, made the words come out like a command.
Gwen looked up, smiled at him, turned to include Weiss in the smile. Let's play.
"OK, guys, a bit of background about myself and Project Oracle. I'm twenty-eight, a graduate of Ocean Sciences from Stanford. I've just completed my Doctorate in Enhanced Prediction Systems for the Niño phenomenon, also at Stanford. I believe I have come up with a system which will enable users to make a long-range El Niño prediction, longer range and more accurate than current forecasters have access to."
Messenger's eyes flickered with interest.
"You're saying you can beat the market?"
Gwen wondered whether it would sound overly hubristic to claim such a feat, then she reminded herself that these guys were financiers.
"That's exactly what I can do," she declared, flashing them a smile.
"Tell me more."
"Gladly. But on a fully confidential basis only. Here's a non-disclosure and circumvention agreement, standard format. Perhaps you would both be good enough to sign," said Gwen, her normally languid delivery sharpening and speeding up. She handed out two forms. Standard business practice, she reminded herself. No reason why they should see anything sinister in it.
Messenger looked surprised. "I don't make a habit of signing so soon. We might have something similar on our books, or about to come on."
"I doubt it," said Gwen, leaning back in her chair, pausing, hooking their interest as the seconds ticked by. Slowly, she leaned back toward them. "My parents, both marine scientists with PhDs, started to work on this twenty-eight years ago. Four years ago, I personally took over their research. I know what's out there in the market. I've been in this field, one way or another, since I was eight."
Messenger said nothing, just studied her intently. Gwen found herself twiddling her ring, forced herself to stop. Finally Messenger picked up a Montblanc pen, read her document thoroughly, signed. Weiss, mirroring his boss, signed too.
Gwen eased out a silent breath, secured the agreements in her briefcase.
"You're both familiar with the predictions that, sooner or later, an Atmospheric River Storm, known as an ARk Storm, is highly likely to hit California?" she asked them.
"Armageddon by weather," said Weiss. He had a soft, almost feminine voice.
"A catastrophic superstorm," Gwen agreed. "It's been described as Hurricane Katrina pushed through a keyhole. The scenario goes like this: winds of up to 125 km's per hour, rain falling in feet rather than inches, nine million homes flooded, parts of LA under twenty feet of water, one and a half million residents evacuated, four weeks of solid rain, an area three hundred miles long and twenty miles wide under water, innumerable mud slides, God only knows how many casualties, a trillion dollars worth of damage. Basically a meteorological nightmare and a catastrophe for the state of California. Last time something like this hit was eighteen sixty-one to eighteen sixty-two. Witnesses describe a flying wall of water that swept people and livestock to their deaths. California's Central Valley — America's breadbasket, incidentally — was turned into an inland sea for months."
"And it's coming our way, only more intense, thanks to global warming," interjected Messenger. "I've read a bit about it. If the government is correct, it'll hit again, possibly in the next few years. What's that got to do with your Oracle?"
"Everything! Based on my work with El Niño prediction, I would elevate ARk Storm from a theoretical possibility to a probability," concluded Gwen.
The room fell silent. Messenger and Weiss glanced at each other and then back to Gwen. If she had hoped to electrify them, she reckoned she'd just done it.
"That's a pretty big prediction, to put it mildly," said Messenger. "What does your model say that the government's ARk Storm version doesn't?"
"First off, I have an input which they don't. I am the only forecaster using this input. It is one hundred percent proprietary to Oracle. I'll come to that later. Second, my own model is also proprietary. And what it tells me is this: The current Niño we are experiencing will be longer and stronger than the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the government predicts. The seas off Peru and Ecuador at the equator are warming at a pace I have never seen. That warming will accelerate over the coming months as their summer kicks in. ARk Storms feed off the atmospheric rivers that in turn feed off those pools of warming seawater. So, in my opinion, this Niño is potentially incubating an ARk Storm."
Messenger and Weiss exchanged a long look. What were they not saying? Gwen wondered.
"And when do you think this ARk Storm will hit?" asked Messenger.
Excerpted from Ark Storm by Linda Davies. Copyright © 2014 Linda Davies. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Meteorologist Doctor Gwen Boudain has researched a method for predicting and controlling the Atmospheric River 1000, a naturally-occurring storm that periodically threatens California. Her boss intends to profit from her work by selling the research to a hostile nation along with a process that will allow those enemies to increase its effect, thereby creating a devastating torrential downpour. What follows is a mile-a-minute, pulse-pounding thriller as Gwen, aided by Navy SEAL-turned newspaper reporter Dan Jacobsen, races to keep the ARk Storm from recreating the Biblical deluge. Highly recommended.
The book was a good read, but I was hoping for more science. Not that the book doesn't present some of the science of the Ark storm, but the main character, a scientist, could have explored more about meteorology and her weather modeling program. This book did get me to read up on the Ark storm hypothesis and several papers about the effects of the El Nino weather changes on California. The scientist does face an ethical decision which was a good plot device.
Gwen Boudain has developed weather tracking software and has reached out to Gabriel Messenger for funding to help her software expand. But Gabriel has a creation of his own. He has used Gwen’s software to create rain or even prevent rain in selected areas. This has the potential to help out areas in need or the ability to be used for a weapon. And that is exactly what is happening. Gwen has been followed and her weather software is about to be stolen by a man that wants to use it to destroy America. Gwen then teams up with ex-Navy Seal turned reporter Dan Jacobson to hunt down the terrorist and stop the destruction to come. I really enjoy Gwen as a lead female character. She is well written as strong yet having trouble in her past that she is working over. The story is well written with the development as the main focus. You don’t even really get into the fear of the storm happening until later in the book. I love the science behind it that just made this even more believable. There is so much going on in this story that you can’t put it down. I love how it was written and now I want to read more of Linda Davies stories. Make sure to put this one on your TBR list. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.