As Smith nails the Green Man’s real identity (a suburban dad from the Midwest) and works out where he’ll strike next, Klass expertly tugs our sympathies in both directions — so we root equally for the crusader who is at once Earth’s potential saviour and a lethal criminal, and the opponent who shares his beliefs, but is nevertheless bent on preventing him from completing his world-alerting mission. As invariably seems to be the case when scriptwriters switch to print, the plotting is impeccable.
Klass’s race-to-the-finish-line tale follows the efforts of young data cruncher Tom Smith, who has a hunch about the Green Man’s identity. “The liberal media say he’s an environmental activist who wants to call attention to the way we’re destroying our own planet,” sneers Tom’s father; Tom himself is torn, agreeing with the Green Man’s motivations while wanting to stop the death of more civilians. Inspired by Klass’s conversations with his teenage daughter about climate change, this is a whale of a ride.
Thrust into the forefront of the investigation is Tom Smith, an obstreperous but hyperintuitive computer analyst who is determined to catch Green Man yet drawn to his cause. The “terrorist or freedom fighter” dichotomy is a little heavy-handed — the constant emphasis on how guilt-stricken Green Man is by taking innocent lives has the opposite effect to that intended — but doesn’t detract from this compelling cat-and-mouse chase by the veteran Hollywood scriptwriter David Klass.