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Book review: Inventive author is a fast-burner

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THE ROSENBERG PRINCIPLE By Colin D Peel, HarperCollins, $34.95. Reviewed by Iain Sharp A CATASTROPHE that few people are aware of, fierce fires blaze along underground coal seams in many parts of the world, emitting toxic fumes and tons of soot into the atmosphere. Fiendishly difficult to extinguish, they can burn unchecked for decades, even centuries. They are one of the major contributors to climate change.

Adam McKendrick, the hero of Colin Peel's gripping new thriller, is a specialist employed by the United Nations to help control such fires. While working in Indonesia, one of the most affected countries, he encounters militia who kill two of his assistants. That's just the beginning of his troubles.

Some scientists believe it's possible to harness the energy from coal fires as a power source. McKendrick learns of a plant set up in Nazi Germany 60 years ago that is now in the hands of a fundamentalist religious group prepared to murder anyone who monitors its activities too closely.

An inventor who once designed weapon systems for the aerospace industry, Colin Peel excels at making scientific concepts accessible to the lay reader.

This is a considerable feat, but Peel, English- born but now living on west Auckland's Awhitu Peninsula, goes a stage further by tying the ideas to exciting, cunningly plotted storylines.

He has a growing reputation among lovers of intelligent adventure yarns, which The Rosenberg Principle is sure to consolidate. He deserves to be as huge as Alistair Maclean or Robert Ludlum.

(C) 2005 Sunday Star-Times. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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