White Plague by James AbelAnd I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. – Revelations 6:8 – King James Bible

Paneloux is a man of learning, a scholar. He hasn’t come in contact with death; that’s why he can speak with such assurance of the truth-with a capital T. But every country priest who visits his parishioners and has heard a man gasping for breath on his deathbed thinks as I do. He’d try to relieve human suffering before trying to point out its goodness. -Albert Camus – The Plague Part 2

There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour. – Benjamin Disraeli
What is the point to winning a war – if all your subjects are rotting in their graves? For me, no ideological or political conviction would justify the sacrifice of a human life. For me, the value of life is absolute, with no concessions. It’s not negotiable. Edgar Ramirez

It begins, as do many things, death amongst them, with silence. The pleas for help stopped coming just after five in the morning, Washington time. The Pentagon staffers cleared for handling sensitive messages sat in horror for a moment and then tried other ways to reach the victims. Nothing worked, so they called the director, who phoned me.

And what follows horrified me, chilled me to the bone, and kept me reading four hours past when I should, by all reasonable measure, put it down and gone to bed. And horrifying the story is, for a lot of different reasons, but mainly? For the absolute, gut wrenching reality of it all. And just how true it is – how likely that something like this will happen.

Lt. Colonel Joe Rush gets the call at 1am, Anchorage time, as he pounds the streets, running from sleep, running from memories. Memories of decisions which saved lives, while taking others. Which left him with the weight of the world on his shoulders, the blackness of grief in his heart. Two weeks. Just two weeks until he retires. And now, this. A new submarine prototype has surfaced in the Arctic – and it is burning. One-hundred-fifty seven souls, trapped on the ice. And no one is near enough to reach them except the single ice breaker the US government has funded to handle the vast spaces of the Arctic waters. Colonel Rush, MD and virology specialist, must get to them as quickly as possible if they are to save the people and salvage the submarine before Chinese or Russian icebreakers claim it for their own.

Monster storms, crushing ice, bone breaking cold – all are threats which Rush, the few Marines who accompany him, and the few Coast Guard sailors handling the Icebreaker Wilmington must meet and overcome to reach their burned and stranded submariners. The sick submariners. For a sickness is burning through the crew, a sickness that no one can identify.

It becomes a race, a race to save the people, to save the submarine, and to avert a single incident that could be the linchpin starting World War III. For as global warming breaks up the ice, opening trade routes and access to unknown stores of oil, gems, metals and trade routes, the political machinations have begun. Great beasts of war are gathering, stomping their hooves, waving their swords, and foaming at the mouths for the blood of those they would call ‘enemy’.

What is the sickness? Where did it come from? And more importantly, can it be cured before the political machine does the unthinkable in a move to ascertain it’s own power? And who aboard the Wilmington is a traitor? And how high do the traitor’s contacts go – and to whom does he report?

No one becomes depraved all at once. – JUVENAL, Satires

All these questions and more make this a hair-raising, edge-of-your-seat military suspense/thriller beyond compare. With it’s roots dug deeply into current political and military policy, White Plague is, beyond a doubt, the BEST military suspense thriller I have read this year.

Highly recommended.

I received the book from Penguin’s First To Read program in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own and are not affected by this fact. For more information on First To Read, click.

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