Crichton turns to a very controversial subject for his current work: "environmental protection." We are reminded constantly of the need to conserve energy, stop our wasteful ways, consider the effects of our actions on the future, protect the dwindling ecosystem, etc. But how valid are the arguments given in support of these statements? How do we know that the so-called environmental activists are not pursuing their own agendas? In State of Fear, Crichton addresses these issues head on; unfortunately, his concerns are buried in a mess of cardboard characters, chaotic plot lines, and dialog that stretches credulity. There are no "heroes" here, only over-the-top villains: a greedy lawyer, an avaricious environmentalist, a dim-bulb movie star, and a mysterious FBI agent, among others. George Wilson's narration induces sleep early on, with his monotonous delivery, overly theatrical characterizations, and inability to capitalize on the few times when the story really comes alive and begins to resemble classic Crichton. Library patrons will want this because of the author's reputation, but be prepared for some disappointment.-Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., Lompoc, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.