'A Single Light'

“A Single Light” by Tosca Lee, c.2019, Howard Books, Atria, $27, 369 pages.

Just a little sniffle. That’s how it all begins: a sniffle, a sore throat, achy body, cough … you know the list. Being sick stinks, and it’s a perfectly good time to take to the sofa with a blankie, a box of tissues and the remote. Or, as in the new book “A Single Light” by Tosca Lee, you could go underground for six months.

At first, it was tolerable.

Subterranean life in a refurbished nuclear silo in the middle of Nebraska was fine, if it kept everyone safe. For the 63 people there, it was far better than taking chances, especially since a prescient survivalist they knew only as Noah had ensured that they had what they needed. He’d stocked food and water, books, movies and medicines — enough for six months, sealed below-ground, awaiting an end of the world.

The residents of the silo trusted Noah to keep them safe, from the pompous know-it-all to the former Marine to Wynter Roth, who needed to be careful: she was a wanted fugitive and she had to assume the others would’ve heard of her crimes. She knew nobody would believe her innocence, nor would they want to spend time underground with a murderer. Having brought a small handful of friends and family with her, Wynter was in the silo under an assumed name, and Noah had approved.

He’d kept her secret, just as he kept the residents abreast of the situation above. The flu-like virus had caused nationwide chaos, but everyone figured that vaccines would be created by spring, at most. Until then, 63 people looked forward to nightly video updates from the barbed-wire-enclosed compound over their heads.

Until two weeks after the hatch sealed them inside and Noah disappeared.

With video capabilities lost, there was no way for anyone to know what was happening above them. Supplies dwindled as the group inched closer each day to disaster, as well as to escape; maintaining civilized behavior below was difficult, and rumors and rivalries were rekindled. Sixty-three became 60, and everybody knew that people were surviving outside while those below, weren’t.

And then the hatch opened early… Hoo, there’s one thing for sure: if you value your sleep, don’t read “A Single Light” before bedtime. Do, and you might as well put your pajamas back in the drawer.

Even just doing the old “one more chapter” bit is fraught with danger when you’ve got this book because one more leads to six leads to forcing yourself to stop. Add an angry bit of love story, a few shivery-gruesome scenes, political intrigue and cliffhangers that author Tosca Lee places just before nearly every break, and you’re not only left breathless from what just has happened, but jittery for what’s to come in this zoom-paced horror-story-thriller.

One thing: this book is a sequel to a previous novel but there’s enough hint and storyline that you’ll be fine reading “A Single Light” by itself. Grab it, and you’ll know that if you’re a fan of hair-raisers, it ain’t nothing to sneeze at.

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