So, very casually — and over the course of the last 15 months — I’ve been writing a thriller, over email, with my friend Jim Scott. It’s a corporate-corruption thriller. Think: The Constant Gardener meets Erin Brokovitch. My idea was simple: I spend hours on email, anyway. Why not make a fraction of that email time productive?
There’s an international steel corporation — an evil one. And a heroine: Madeleine Lincoln.
It’s called Lincoln Memorial.
And so, standing on the twenty-fifth floor of an unfinished skyscraper was – in his estimation – an awful way to spend a Wednesday morning.
To make matters worse, his hands were full of bulky scientific instruments: A dovetail metal cutter and a plasma spectrometer’s specimen tube.
And it was raining.
And it was windy.
And the sun had only just begun to rise above the nearby form of the Parthenon. It was perilously dark.
Charles inched along the rain-slickened I-beam. He’d performed this exact operation before in so many buildings and so many countries – but this was a new level of difficulty. His head began to spin; his breath came with dizzying quickness. He contemplated the drop beneath his feet. At his weight – Charles calculated – it would take approximately 4.2 seconds to reach terminal velocity.
He stretched out his arm and began the process of sampling the steel. If he managed to do it without falling, then he’d still have to return to the elevator – but this time walking backwards. And then there were the guards: Sleepy and fat, but armed with automatic weapons. And then there was the trip back to the hotel, and then the surreptitious stowing of the machinery – and the careful packaging of the samples, which had to be vacuum-sealed, and would be destroyed if they were exposed to air.
And after that?
That was when it got really challenging: Charles Lincoln and his wife were planning to shop for antiques.