First edition cover (UK)
Set in the United States, an Islamic terrorist kidnaps nuclear scientists and steals radioactive material from a California nuclear power plant. When Detective Sergeant Ryder's wife is kidnapped along with nuclear scientists from the California power station where they all work, he sets out to find her. Facing resistance from within his own police department, he leaves his job and begins taking the law into his own hands. His son Jeff, a highway patrolman, and a few other trusted friends attempt to stop the terrorists from detonating home-built atomic bombs along California's fault lines, which would unleash massive earthquakes killing millions of people and destroying California's major cities.
The inspiration for the plot appears to be acknowledged by Maclean himself in his preface to the 1977 edition of the book where he describes his first experience of an earthquake while in California on 9 February 1971.
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