White’s novel begins with an “invitation only” meeting of black marketeers, eco-criminals currently sacking the Caspian Sea for sturgeon (for the production of caviar) and on the lookout for new resources to exploit. An opportunity may be on offer by host Viktor Kaslov, whose extravagant yacht is anchored off Florida’s Vanderbilt Island, the site of the meeting of like-minded entrepreneurs from China, Turkmenia and Iran. Like Kaslov, these powerful men are eco-thugs. Among them is White’s popular protagonist, Doc Ford, who wrangles an invitation via his ex-hippie friend, Tomlinson. While Ford slips away from the gathering to investigate Kaslov’s yacht, the island suddenly goes black, not only losing all power but also any means of communication with the outside world.
Unsure what has happened, Ford turns back from the yacht only to be confronted with a gunman and the sound of gunfire on the island. In a complete blackout and with no answers to his questions, Ford seems to be the only free agent at large, working his way from the dock after a confrontation with Kaslov’s gun-wielding bodyguard and a stranger shooting from a distance with the aid of night vision. Trained in special ops techniques and in excellent physical shape, Ford’s self-appointed mission is to ascertain whether this is a coup between eco-gangsters or a takeover by another entity.
There are plenty of suspects at hand. Besides the foreign businessmen, there is also the substantial presence of a new bred of eco-warriors, 3P2—the Third Planet Peace Force—and their obnoxious spokeswoman, as well as other random visitors with invitations. The sporadic gunfire suggests this is serious business, but Ford can’t figure out how to play the odds until her learns the identity of the shooter and the reason for the attack. A series of deadly encounters gives him eventually a few vital clues—and one terrible suspicion—but in this cat-and-mouse chase, Ford is able to glean one new piece of information at a time. Mistakes can be fatal. If he is captured, there is no hope of rescue for anyone on the island.
Moving closer to the lodge and its inhabitants, Ford begins to grasp what is in play, but the instigators behind the chaos come completely out of left field, all the more dangerous as their fanatical intentions are revealed. From the start, when the island is submerged in darkness, the action is hair-trigger fast and deadly, new threat at every turn and the culprits impossible to negotiate with as their demands escalate. With a bounty of scientific information about Florida’s ocean, the worldwide pillaging of natural resources and the billions in profits to be made on the black market, the future is grim. But White makes it all doable with his renaissance action hero and his ex-hippie friend in a complex web of crooks and fanatics on a collision course: “Overwhelming fear can turn a timid man into a mad-dog killer.” Ford truly is chasing midnight in a race with time and an unpredictable adversary that he can’t afford to lose.