Twenty-four Days

Twenty-four Days

A former SEAL, a brilliant scientist, a love-besotted nerd, and a quirky AI have twenty-four days to stop a terrorist attack. The problems: They don’t know what it is, where it is, or who’s involved.

A female Naval officer assigned to the cruiser, USS Bunker Hill, is part of the deployment to protect the US and its allies from a nuclear threat spearheaded by North Korea. Before she finishes, America will be embroiled in a naval battle, hunt for two hijacked submarines, and prepare to defend the country against space-based weapons.  

And someone unexpected falls in love. 


In the latest in the Rowe-Delamagente series, the two unlikely partners have less than a month to stop a North Korean missile strike after hijackers steal nuclear warhead-armed submarines. If they don’t, the US Bunker Hill, on a peaceful mission to observe a North Korean missile launch, will be in grave danger. Piece by piece, Rowe and Delamagente uncover a bizarre nexus between a man Rowe thought dead, a North Korean communications satellite America believes is a nuclear-tipped weapon, an ideologue that cares only about revenge, and the USS Bunker Hill (a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser) tasked with supervising the satellite launch. As the deadline looms, they call on the unusual skills of a quirky AI named Otto with the unique ability to track anything with a digital trail.

From Kirkus Review:

“A blistering pace is set from the beginning: dates open each new chapter/section, generating a countdown that intensifies the title’s time limit. Murray skillfully bounces from scene to scene, handling numerous characters, from hijackers to MI6 special agent Haster. … A steady tempo and indelible menace form a stirring nautical tale…” (click for entire review)

Book information:

Title and author: Twenty-four Days by J. Murray

ISBN: 978-1-942101-19-2

Release Date: April 24, 2017 by Structured Learning

Genre: Thriller

Available on Kindle US

Cover by: Paper and Sage Design 

Questions you want answered about Twenty-four Days:

Can today’s science make a warship invisible

If not today, in the very near future. DARPA and other scientific arms of the US Military are experimenting with approaches such as the use of metamaterials (the device used in Twenty-four Days) To hide military equipment from all sorts of waves—like sound waves and light waves. In a nutshell, here’s how they work: Rather than the sound or light waves hitting the object, they are deflected around the object and they land on what’s behind it. That means, the viewer (or in the book’s case, sonar) see what’s behind the object rather than the object. This is already effective for small objects, but is experimental for large ones like tanks and subs, and planning stages for sonar.

Pretty cool.

Exactly how cool is Otto, the AI?

He’s more than simply a very fast search engine. He’s sentient in that he can respond to asked questions, come up with new responses based on the situation, read body language, and troubleshoot when necessary. Most importantly: Otto is self-aware. He knows he’s smarter than most computers. He prefers a human name and constantly wants to incorporate human habits and mannerisms such as chatting and humility.

What is an ‘AI’?

An AI is an Artificial Intelligence—a machine that perceives its environment and takes actions to maximize its chance of success. It is often applied to indicate a machine that mimics cognitive functions such as “learning” and “problem solving”.

Just to be clear: Otto does these and more. He also has adopted human habits and mannerisms that make him comfortable to be around and the preferred friend to at least one of my main characters.

What pick-up line does Eitan (the geek in the story) use to attract his first wife?

The line that persuaded Eitan’s first wife (now dead) to fall in love, shared when both of them were attending the Twelfth Conference on Calculus Variations in Vienna, was ‘I wish I was a derivative so I could lay tangent to your curves’.

From that simple sentence, true love blossomed.

Are there drones in this book?

No. A lot of military and anti-terrorism books I read now include drones. Since I started this one about five years ago, that was pre-drone hysteria so I missed it.

Maybe the next one…

Is the submarine’s invisibility shield like the cloak in Harry Potter?

One of the Harry Potter movies included a scene in a train where Harry hid under a cloak that made him invisible. Invisibility has also been used in the Iron Man series and in James Bond.

Do you have to read To Hunt a Sub (the prequel) to understand this book (the second in the series)

No, not at all. The plots are stand-alone and the characters interact based on what happens in this story, not prior ones. There is sufficient backstory to cover any instances where that is not true.

How does Otto find submarines anywhere in the world?

What Otto does better than any other man or machine in existence is identify differences between stuff, no matter how small or minor. In this case, it’s changes in the magnetic fluxes surrounding the planet that occur when certain vessels pass through them. When he is plugged into a satellite that has a map of the world’s magnetic fluxes, he can find where those changes occur and determine if they’re caused by a submarine.

OK, that’s a highly simplified explanation, but for a lot of more complicated scientific reasons, Otto makes it happen.

Is this a romantic thriller?

Maybe. There is a budding romance in it.

Is the tech included in the book really possible?

Absolutely. It takes real laws of physics—science in general—and extrapolates intelligently on those to what could be if there was time and money. It follows the model of what is commonly referred to as Star Trek Science. But in the case of Twenty-four Days science, you don’t have to wait centuries. It’ll probably be around in a matter of decades.

You can say you read about it first in Twenty-four Days.

About the Author:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Her debut novel, To Hunt a Sub, launched 2016. You can find her nonfiction books at Structured Learning.

Quote from author:

What sets this series apart from other thrillers is the edgy science used to build the drama, the creative thinking that unravels the deadly plot, and the quirky, AI named Otto who works tirelessly to learn what ‘being human’ means. 

What readers say about the series:

This book grabbed my attention from the first chapter, actually the first paragraph. The intrigue is great and even though I have no idea what all the computer based information is about, it does not detract from my ability to follow and really enjoy the book, because the author is able to incorporate that information in the writing, without over loading the reader. Hope there will be a sequel to this. Finally, despite my desire not to lay the book down (or Kindle in this case), I do have things I must do but am able to easily pick back up and continue reading without have to backtrack. That is the quality of a good book!!

Lots of action, suspense, and twists

J Murray’s long anticipated thriller, To Hunt a Sub, is a satisfying read from a fresh voice in the genre, and well worth the wait. The time devoted to research paid off, providing a much appreciated authenticity to the sciency aspects of the plot. The author also departs from the formulaic pacing and heroics of contemporary commercialized thrillers. Instead, the moderately paced narrative is a seduction, rather than a sledgehammer. The author takes time rendering relatable characters with imaginatively cool names like Zeke Rowe, and Kalian Delamagente. The scenes are vividly depicted, and the plot not only contains exquisitely treacherous twists and turns, but incorporates the fascinating study of early hominids, and one ancestral female in particular who becomes an essential character. The narrative might have benefited from language with a crispier, sharper edge, but that is purely my personal taste and preference, and takes nothing away from the over-all satisfaction of this novel.

Timely. I haven’t heard of a highjacked submarine, but the blueprint in this book could work!

A nuclear sub goes missing and Zeke Rowe is called in to help with the investigation. He joins forces with Kali Delamagente, the developer of an AI named Otto whose unique ability is compiling clues and finding things – like ancient people, kidnappers, and modern subs. Rowe’s not the only one whose interested in the subs or Otto’s capabilities. Bent on destroying America, a terrorist is making Kali’s life miserable, breaking into her lab, hacking her computer, and making hostages out of those she loves. As the terrorist ring closes in, time is running out and the stakes are rising.

One thing I enjoyed about this read is the technical reality Murray created for both the scientific and military aspects of the book. I completely believed the naval and investigatory hierarchy and protocols, as well as the operation inside the sub. I was fascinated by her explanation of Otto’s capabilities, the security efforts Kali employs to protect her data, and how she used Otto’s data to help Rowe.

If that all sounds like too much science, the characters are also well-rounded human beings with colorful histories and rich emotional palettes. There’s a little romantic attraction thrown in for fun though it isn’t a main focus of the story. The plot is high energy and complex with twists that require the reader to pay attention. To Hunt a Sub is an entertaining novel for anyone who enjoys military thrillers.

Can’t wait for the sequel!