Death By Tech

by Urno Barthel, Art Chester


Book Details


A totally secure meeting, in a totally secure laboratory, every attendee cleared and confirmed. How did two unknown gunmen suddenly appear, threatening twenty people with a powerful laser beam and viciously attacking the chief engineer? Evan Olsson hears the screams of victims and smells burning flesh as he pursues the criminals from the room only to stumble over his favorite security guard, dead in a pool of her own blood.

The mysterious crime is revealed as part of a larger plot when a powerful laser is stolen by high-tech means. Evan and his FBI partner Matt discover an international conspiracy to attack L.A. infrastructure and murder global leaders. They reach the heart of the plot but find themselves trapped deep underground by the criminals as the conspiracy reaches its deadly conclusion.

Death By Tech plunges Evan and Matt into a whirlpool of liaisons and betrayals as they seek bits of truth that can be trusted. Their work is undercut and placed in jeopardy by even their closest allies, who seem to have sinister agendas of their own. Evan’s problems are compounded by shocking developments in his love life. He will need all his skill and luck to get through this case and regain his optimistic faith in the future.


Book Excerpt

I was rudely pulled back from this reverie. Judd was no longer alone on the stage. There was a stocky-looking man carrying a leather satchel. His face was covered by a gray ski mask that made a jarring contrast to his neat dark suit. He picked up the tray of DVDs and moved offstage to the left. Judd followed in agitation as the laser continued to cut.

Just as I lost sight of them a taller man, in navy blazer and gray slacks and also masked, leaped onto the stage from somewhere at the left. Several members of the audience started to rise and he gestured menacingly. "Sit down! Stay in your seats, heads down!"

The man twisted the lockdown handle. He spun the optics assembly on its axis, pointing the beam at the audience. "Raise your head, I'll blow it off!" The voice was harsh, sharp. The beam swept across the row of seats just in front of the audience. There were puffs of flame and the acrid smell of burning fabric.

Peering from a crunched position, I suddenly saw the truth. This laser was no domestic tool, delivered by Home Depot and obedient to the control of a loving parent. What faced me was a gun, a weapon, waved by a madman or a terrorist. The red guide beam flashed in my eyes as the beam swept back and forth across the auditorium. Invisible bullets came tearing toward me, flaring and sparking where they hit. I heard a cry of pain to my left. Someone apparently had left part of her body visible above the seat backs. The man on stage scanned the laser back and forth and the air filled with smoke and ash. My eyes watered, drawing a breath made me feel like choking.

The beam was invisible, but not its effect: when it touched the upholstery and the metal chair backs, knots of fire puffed up. The stench of scorched fabric was joined by the smell of burning flesh - a hellish barbecue out of control. Not a typical morning at our peaceful research lab.

I was scared, crouched between the seats, hearing the buzz of whispers from alarmed audience members. To my left I could see people on hands and knees, wedged between the rows, trying to get every part out of sight of the burning, slicing beam.


About the Author

Urno Barthel, Art Chester

URNO BARTHEL is the pen name of Art Chester, a technologist and mystery writer. This book continues the story of Evan Olsson that was begun in Death By Probability. Art hosts a website that reports work in science that affects our everyday lives:
Art’s fiction is set in and around Malibu, California, his home for many years. He now lives in Michigan, New York state and Hawaii.

Also by Urno Barthel, Art Chester

Death By Probability
Death By Arbitrage or Live Low Die High