Evan Galloway is a human limits physiologist working for DARPA--the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, the same folks who brought us the internet. Evan's project, of course, is quite different. He's developing a nanotech method for dramatically improving human athletic performance, by increasing the amount of oxygen the human blood can carry. The army wants it for soldiers, but as with much of what DARPA does, there are obvious civilian applications.
Of course, the most obvious of those applications would be classed as cheating. Some people don't mind that, though. Some people are quite comfortable with cheating.
One of those people is billionaire and extreme athlete Jack McKnight--who happens to be the former lover of Evan's boss, Dana Brines. And Dana and Jack have a son together. Or they did, until last year. Michael died suddenly, after running an ultramarathon.
One of the many important details Evan doesn't know is that there are two versions of the project he's dubbed Nan Airs. He's working on a version that will be safe, effective, and undetectable by any easily foreseeable testing method. The army wants that. The army also wants a lethal version, a version that can be triggered to lethality at any time from a safe distance, and that part has been farmed out.
This is a tense, complicated tale about people with multiple competing agendas, and Grinnell keeps it all moving and keeps it all straight for the reader. Evan is decent and kind at his core, but he's a complex character with real weaknesses, and some unpleasant secrets in his past. He's also got a fractured relationship with his brother Luke, that he'd love to repair. Dana Brines has her own complicated motivations and intentions, and Lucius Atticus is a satisfyingly flawed but capable training guru for Evan.
The only really significant character who is a bit too simplistic is Jack McKnight. There's one thing he does, early on, that's just incomprehensible except that it proves how bad this bad guy really is.
Despite that flaw, this is a really great read, a story that keeps moving, with characters you can care about
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.