I think of Perilous Panacea as being a techno-thriller in the genre popularized by Tom Clancy (note:  I have no illusions about being another Clancy—at least at this time). It is based on today’s headlines, about nuclear terror set in the not-too-distant future, involving Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. It entails stolen plutonium and uranium and the clandestine manufacture of atomic bombs within the U.S. and all the chaos emanating from such an incident.
There have been other books and movies about fantastic heists of nuclear material with the perpetrators attacking a train, convoy, or storage facility and making off with the material, which then must be recovered. That was the possible scenario for stolen nuclear material advanced by critics of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in the 1970s. The DOE says that will not happen with today’s security. I agree. That was last century, and any such vulnerability has been blocked. Technology has changed since the 1970s, and twenty-first century technology presents new vulnerabilities that appeared when our world was computerized.The twenty-first century also has entities with millions of dollars to buy experts with the needed skills to carry out the project, and it has the experts willing to be bought.

Perilous Panacea involves a computer whiz-bang willing to be bought. He assumes control of the DOE computerized security system to engineer the theft. In addition to buying expertise, blackmail and kidnapping are used to “recruit” additional personnel needed to successfully manufacture atomic bombs. The blackmailed and kidnapped scientists know they must escape to save the world from nuclear chaos—and save themselves—while the FBI mounts its effort to find the nuclear material and simultaneously fend off bureaucratic interference and media leaks.

Could this happen? Could nuclear material be released into the atmosphere without setting off a bomb or terrorist attack? Read Perilous Panacea and decide for yourself.

Ronald Klueh
Author of Perilous Panacea