The Christmas Special
by David J. Hearne
Subterfuge Publishing

"No one was on the street, and the lights were off on all the houses we walked by. When we got to the car, Abdul popped the trunk and told me to throw her in there."

The events of September 11, 2001, forever altered how Americans viewed terrorism. New organizations such as the United States Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration quickly emerged to deal with any future threats, and over the following years stories would occasionally pop up about plots that had been expertly foiled by the nation's enhanced security measures. But are the steps taken to protect the populace really good enough? Are there some holes in the country's defenses that can still be exploited? Hearne's novel offers a thought-provoking and chilling look at how a group of terrorists could make 9/11 seem like simply a warm-up act for a deadly concert of attacks.

16-year-old Sheeva is a young woman in love. She dreams of one day marrying her boyfriend, Jason, and enjoying their children together. However, after her brother Abdul and his friends savagely beat and almost kill Jason, she finds herself fleeing Chicago to escape not only her sadistic brother's clutches but also her father's. Reunited with her boyfriend in Texas, she works hard to make a home for them there. But when Jason discovers from some stolen papers that her father is behind a plot to attack nuclear power plants as well as other targets, and that going to the authorities with them could risk Jason being tried as a sex offender since she is a minor, she can only watch as her dreams of a peaceful life begin to turn into a nightmare.

Written as a series of interviews with various participants after the events take place, the book propels the reader into an emotionally gripping and suspenseful tale that feels almost terrifyingly real. Poignant, disturbing, and superbly written, Hearne's tale deserves shelf space beside some of the best thrillers on the market.

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