Honolulu, Hawaii. Tourist Paradise. Hell on Earth.
Over the remote central Pacific, an airliner halfway through its Memorial Day flight from Los Angeles to Sydney is suddenly rocked by a massive explosion. Despite the pilot’s valiant efforts, the blast sends it plummeting into the ocean, leaving no witnesses to the fireball.
Kai Tanaka, the new and untested director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu, notes a minor seismic disturbance in that region but doesn’t make the connection with the lost airplane. There’s no reason to be worried about his wife, who is the manager of a luxury hotel, or his daughter, who is enjoying the sunny holiday morning at Waikiki with friends.
But when all contact with Christmas Island and its 3000 inhabitants is lost, Kai is the first to realize that Hawaii faces a catastrophe of epic proportions: in one hour, a series of massive waves will wipe out Honolulu. He has just sixty minutes to save the lives of a million people, including his wife and daughter…
I finished this thriller in 2006. But the idea for this book did not come from the Asia tsunami that devastated Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia in 2004. The story originated with the heroic deeds of the firefighters at the World Trade Center collapse. As I watched in horror, one thought that popped into my head was whether any of the firefighters had family members in the Twin Towers. If I were a firefighter, would I do my duty and trust someone else to save my children, or would I leave my post to save them myself? It’s a powerful dilemma and serves as Kai’s main conflict as the mega-tsunamis bear down on Honolulu.
In researching the scientific background for this story, I was given a tour of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center located just four miles from Honolulu. The tour was in March, 2003, almost two years before the Asia tsunami hit.