Keep Reading: An Australian Author

With Australia Day just around the corner, celebrate by reading a new Australian author. Described as an explosive action thriller, strap yourself in for a supersonic ride....

Read the prologue to see if you would like to keep reading this book!

He's smart and good-looking with a satisfying, desirable job. He has a wonderful girlfriend, is liked and respected at both his place of work and in the wider community, and he drives a DeLorean, his all-time favourite car. Simply, Judson Bell's life is awesome and he couldn't be happier about it.
Why, just a moment ago a man randomly high-fived him. A man he didn't even know. It happened as Judd returned to his office at Johnson Space Center. As NASA's youngest shuttle pilot he'd been the face of its recent public-relations tour. It had been a rousing success and garnered NASA a boatload of positive press, especially the 60 Minutes piece, hence the random high-five from an enthusiastic co-worker.
So thirty-year-old Judd Bell is walking on air. Rhonda Jacolby, his partner, who's just as smart and good-looking with the same satisfying, desirable job, is right there beside him. Around NASA they are considered the future of the space program and Judd can't think of a single reason not to agree.
Rhonda glances at her Seiko, turns to Judd. 'The landing.'
'Of course.'
'There's a monitor in here.' She directs him to a nearby door, pushes it open.
The television in Conference Room Two is already surrounded by a crowd of back-office staff. Judd and Rhonda stand behind them and watch the big Toshiba widescreen.
On its screen a small white dot followed by an elegant comet tail rips silently across a faultless blue sky. The small white dot pulses, then splits in two.
Judd blinks, to check his eyes aren't playing tricks, then focuses on the screen again.
Two white dots. No tricks.
'Christ.' The grief hits like a fist, overwhelms him. He doubles over, puts his hands on his knees.
A woman within the small crowd says, to no one in particular, 'Gee, that chase plane is high.'
'It's too high to be a chase plane.'
The woman turns to Judd. 'What is it, then?'
He glances at her security pass. She's a PR flack. Young, new. He doesn't answer, just looks at Rhonda beside him. Her elegant face is stricken. She knows.
'So what is it?' The young flack's voice betrays no sense of alarm, no hint that she may not want to hear the answer.
'Debris.' Judd says it the only way he knows how to deliver bad news. Simple and direct.
'Debris?' She still doesn't understand.
'It's breaking up.' He can't believe he's saying the words.
'You're not serious.' The flack turns back to the screen. One of the white dots pulses again and then there are three. The crowd cries out in anguish.
Judd runs a hand through his cropped hair, his life no longer awesome. Rhonda turns to him, her eyes wet with tears.
After years of training they all knew the risk, but only in the abstract. No matter what they'd been told, or how often, nothing could prepare them for this. For today.
The first of February 2003.
The space shuttle Columbia is lost and Judd Bell's best friend is dead, 60 kilometres above Texas, sixteen minutes from home.

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