The Enigma Strain (Harvey Bennett #1)“We know we cannot underestimate the importance of emergency planning in our region, nor can we assume we’ll have ample warning time. If an earthquake or terrorist attack hits, we won’t necessarily have advance alerts or opportunities to double- and triple-check our plans”. – Ellen Tauscher

“The purpose of terrorism lies not just in the violent act itself. It is in producing terror. It sets out to inflame, to divide, to produce consequences which they then use to justify further terror.” – Tony Blair

“This country values freedom, but you and I both know that ‘freedom’ is a joke. We’re somewhere between a third-world country with a corrupt government and an overbearing corporation on the scale of how free we really are. Americans now hold on to every scrap of ‘freedom’ they can find, including their own individuality –“ Nick Thacker, The Enigma Strain

Harvey “Ben” Bennett, Yellowstone Ranger, has had a crummy day. First, the worst kind of campers created a huge mess at their campsite – then are all bent out of shape when Mo the Grizzly shows up. Good ol’ Mo, he knows where the easy goodies are. Stupid, messy, complaining psudo-campers, ruining the sanctity of the ecosystem. Bah. Now, Ben has to haul Mo up to the northern end of the park, far away from the campsite areas, and ignorant tourists. This is Mo’s third strike – if he wanders back to populated areas, he winds up on death row. All because tourists can’t keep from treating the park like Disneyland, complete with throwing their trash on the ground.

But when Ben and Carlos Rivera haul Mo north, they run into more than they expected. A monstrous explosion, complete with mushroom cloud, causes an earthquake that drops Carlos into a chasm in the Earth. Now, a red dust cloud hangs over Yellowstone – a cloud of death. As people begin to die, Ben finds himself partnered with Julie Richardson, a specialist with the Biological Threat Research Division of the Centers for Disease Control as they chase the origin of what appears to be a synthetic, airborne virus. A virus that, if released across the US, could cause near total destruction. But that isn’t the only terrorist action that is planned. For the explosion in Yellowstone may only be the first – and if the caldera under Yellowstone blows, the United States will turn into a wasteland.

There is action aplenty in The Enigma Strain. Ben and Julie are realistic characters, well developed and designed, and the people they run up against, from self-centered management personnel to soulless terrorists and guns for hire are also well rendered, though tend towards ‘over-the-top’. As with my review of Thacker’s The Depths, I find myself disappointed with the obvious continuity issues. Editorial issues are not as bad as in The Depths, but I find continuity issues to be tremendously aggravating – especially when it changes the character of the actors, their mental, intellectual and psychological actions and capabilities. Hard right turns in intellectual levels are infuriating.

The ideas are on the edge, but frighteningly believable in these days of worldwide terrorism. It was a fun read overall, and worth the time spent. The infusion of historical events gave the book the extra ‘kick’ it needed to encourage the excitement level.

I receive this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

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