Zero Sum Game

In Zero Sum Game, S.L. Huang introduces Cas Russell--an expert in the purposefully vague field of "retrieval"--who finds her skills tested after a rescue mission brings her to the attention of a vast and dangerous conspiracy. Russell is no easy target, capable of seemingly impossible physical feats and unerring marksmanship that enables her to kill packs of goons with ease. Rather than super-strength or heightened reflexes, she relies on her uncanny facility for math: "The dark-suited men became points in motion, my brain extrapolating from the little I could see and hear, assigning probabilities and translating to expected values."

Huang's protagonist is hard-nosed to an extreme: the closest thing she has to a friend is another murderously talented killer with a penchant for sadism and few recognizable emotions. The novel pushes a relentless pace, with countless well-executed action scenes and an impressive body count. The only force that can stand in Russell's way for long is an elusive organization named Pithica. Russell must question her own mind as she finds evidence of Pithica's eerie ability to manipulate thoughts.
Zero Sum Game's pleasures lie in the protagonist's repeated ability to extricate herself from seemingly impossible predicaments, whipping up math-based solutions to gunfights on the fly. In one memorable scene, Russell makes a number of small adjustments, one involving an umbrella, that allow her to eavesdrop on a distant conversation. How? It involves sound waves and, of course, math. In Cas Russell, Huang has created a protagonist with a distinctive hook. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Powered by: Xtenit