Thursday, December 5, 2013

Critical Reaction by Todd M. Johnson

As a Washingtonian, I was really interested in reading this book. As a child, that the Hanford Nuclear Reactor was just across the Cascade Mountains was a constant reminder of the reality of the Cold War.

The first part of the novel is a little slow. We find out that there has been an accident at the Hanford site. The reactor had long been shut down but there were still contractors there maintaining and cleaning up the site. Before long we find out that there appears to be a cover up regarding the accident. Something strange is going on.

Kieran is a contracted worker who was in the midst of the explosion. Months later, he is still suffering serious health issues. He brings a suit against the contractor but his small town lawyer bows out as the trial nears. Emily, with the prosecutor's office in Seattle, is approached. She wants to take the case and convinces her father, a powerful lawyer, to help her out.

The action picks up in the middle of the novel as the lawyers work on discovery and find they are being outmaneuvered by the contract company. The tension increases when it looks like there is much more going on at the Hanford site than mere maintenance.

This was a fun book for me to read, even though it was not a page turner until well into the second half. The possibility of a company going rogue at the nuclear site was exciting. There was plenty of action toward the end as the contractor wanted to keep the rogue project secret – at any cost. I did feel the ending was abrupt and a little unrealistic. And there was a loose end that was not tied up – after all, they were lawyers trespassing yet with no ultimate consequences. That would probably happen only in a novel.

Todd M. Johnson is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School. He has practiced law for over 30 years and has served as a U. S. diplomat to Hong Kong. He and his family live outside Minneapolis, Minnesota. Find out more at

Bethany House, 385 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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