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Terrorism

Shadowed Flame by RJ Blain

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“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.” –  Junichiro Tanizaki

Matia Evans knows the strength of silence. A sword and a cudgel, silence is the friend that never leaves her side. And in her world of shades of black, white, and gray, silence is the truth that delves past the face of glamour. She has never seen blue, yellow, or green. But when terrorists blow up La Guardia Airport while she and her father are waiting for their plane to Boston, that particular shade of charcoal announcing the color others call ‘red’, the supposedly vibrant crimson of blood, splashes, drips and pools. And Matia Evans will never be the same. For, after hours of pushing and bullying the other survivors into searching the ruins for survivors alongside her, in a devastated and blocked off Terminal B, Matia is dying. Funny. After hours on end of brutal, bloody labors, finding endless corpses, but at times the joy of the forms of the living, Matia is dying in the lap of a stranger, of smoke inhalation and the chemical funk which permeates the air. And she’s OK with that. Lives were saved, her life ends on a positive note, and at least if her father really is dead, he will have gone before her. He won’t have to mourn her loss.

But sometimes, unlike taxes, the shadow of Death may be turned away. And when Matia wakes up in hospital, her life is about to change in ways she would have, could have, never expected.

I first read and reviewed Ms. Blain with “Beneath the Blood Moon” and though I really did enjoy it, I was disappointed that her work could have benefited from a content editor to make sure she tied up all her loose ends and kept her story focused. That isn’t the case with “Shadowed Flame.” This is, by far, one of the better written stories in the YA/Paranormal genre. And while there is a romance, it is so well written I hate to call it “Paranormal Romance.” Yes, it is there, but it is only a portion of a rich tapestry of story, character and world.  (Oh, and it is ‘clean’ too. We don’t have to know exactly ‘how’ the bedroom calisthenics are carried out – only that they occur – and they are only a small part of the overarching story line.) I was surprised, and incredibly pleased, to follow the story of Matia, her struggles, losses and pain, but also her deep conviction and drive to do the right thing, no matter the pain it caused her. Ms. Blain has written a story with solid character development and world building, two of the most important things I look for in books. Her writing is focused and crisp, and her development of Matia, especially, is probably the best representation of a driven, dedicated, loving young woman of character and strength. Only eighteen, she has taken the gifts she was given and blossomed into a woman who others respect. And when she actually opens her mouth and speaks, well, people do tend to listen.

This isn’t a silly book by any means. A good portion of the story comes before the La Guardia explosion, and builds your understanding and care for Matia and her father, as well as the more minor players in her life. Her father is a hoot, I truly enjoyed his character as well. To be honest, at first I wasn’t sure I was going to like Matia.

“For the third time since arriving at work two hours ago, Dad tripped over his own feet and smacked face first into the carpet. The thump of him hitting the floor drowned out my sigh. I debated whether to get up and help him or stay at my desk and observe his efforts to restore his dignity.”

Of course, by the second page I had grasped their relationship, sighing and rolling my own eyes over the incident. Between Ralph’s apparent ‘Clumsy Curse’ and Matias parsimonious use of words, their relationship has a comedic balance that is apparent throughout the book, always showing up at unexpected times. There is a deep love and understanding between the two that made the whole book worthwhile on its own.

Once Ms. Blain begins the ‘paranormal’ portion of the book, there is a maturity and dignity to the characters that I much admired. There isn’t the ‘wham-bam’ sort of presentation of other, less developed books in the genre. ‘See woman. Take woman. HEA. The End.’ Instead, Ms. Blain turns the paranormal romance portion of the book on its head, in a most interesting way. I would have read the book just for that fact, but it is so much more that I simply couldn’t put it down.

I am impressed, and very pleased, that I picked up Shadowed Flame, and am anxious to learn how you like it as well. Though I wasn’t able to give Beneath the Blood Moon a more than moderate rating, I am very happy to say I give this one full marks! You can pick up Shadowed Flame here. It is on Kindle Unlimited, so you can read for free, or purchase the book for your library.

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Review: Fever Zone by Cindy Dees

“I will hurt you for this. I don’t know how yet, but give me time. A day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you’ll know the debt is paid.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

“How I hate this world. I would like to tear it apart with my own two hands if I could. I would like to dismantle the universe star by star, like a treeful (sic) of rotten fruit. Nor do I believe in progress. A vermin-eaten saint scratching his filth for heaven is better off than you damned in clean linen. Progress doubles our tenure in a vale of tears. Man is a mistake, to be corrected only by his abolition, which he gives promise of seeing to himself. Oh, let him pass, and leave the earth to the flowers that carpet the earth wherever he explodes his triumphs. Man is inconsolable, thanks to that eternal “Why?” when there is no Why, that question mark twisted like a fishhook in the human heart. “Let there be light,” we cry, and only the dawn breaks.” ― Peter De Vries, The Blood of the Lamb

Fever ZoneCindy Dees, the author of Fever Zone, should have known that there was going to be an issue when her airplane seatmate, who had been glancing more and more often at her laptop screen, opened a conversation.

Him: “Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you who you are.”
Me (surprised): “And you would be who? (Honestly, I expected him to be an air marshal, given his size and chilly demeanor.)
Him: “I work for Homeland Security.”

Of course, the next few hours sitting in a sterile airport office being interrogated by a variety of alphabet agencies pretty much guaranteed that she had stumbled upon a story line that made said agencies extremely uncomfortable. Guaranteeing to wait for a year, for Homeland to “plug the hole” Dees did, indeed, wait to publish. And the story, of grief and hatred, obsession, cultism and terrorism is breathtaking in its twisted, terrifying simplicity. The youngest female fighter pilot in history, Dees worked in intelligence gathering and was detained by both the KGB and East German secret police, so she has the background to understand the inner workings of government and military agencies, and her scenario, in all its twists and turns, is highly believable. The backgrounds of the ‘bad guys’ involved are almost mundane in their very commonality, while the history of “The Scientist” who anchors the story is heartbreaking and, again, so real as to allow you to actually feel his despair.

“Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.” – William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 2 Scene 1

The West Bank. Jerusalem. One year ago. Yusef Abahdi, his daughter Salima, and his wife Marta, are Palestinians, living in a world defined by the ongoing conflict between Jews, Zionists, Muslims and Christians, all determined to destroy one another over a bit of desert wasteland with a millennia-old history of violence and savagery. It is a life of poverty, hunger and razor wire, suicide bombers and high-powered rifles trained on them every day by young Israeli Defense Force soldiers with itchy trigger fingers, filled with their own overwhelming dread. Yusef, with his degree in biochemistry, cares for his daughter during the day the best he can, while Marta, with her masters in Literature, works as a maid for a rich Jewish family. A life of terror, brought to a razor’s edge by a bomb. A bomb that crystallizes into a core of cold, diamond hard rage.

What comes next is a tale that is terrifying to behold in its very simplicity. Take a broken man, filled with rage, a simple-minded cult of Luddites, mix in enough money to forward a plot whose edges are ill-defined, and wrap it all up in a race to save hundreds of thousands of people from a manufactured plague. The concept of the story got the attention of Homeland Security, so you know the fear is real. This part of the story is well researched and well written.

But then, we get to “the other part.” Here is where the tale comes crashing down around the reader’s ears.

Mike McCloud is a Navy Special Forces operative, an observer, watching over a filthy street on a rooftop in Khartoum. Once one of the greatest cities of the world, Khartoum is a little corner of Purgatory, savage and brutal – and an incubator for some of the most savage terrorists the world has ever known.

Piper Roth is also an observer, sent by the CIA to follow up on a pair of seemingly innocuous cult members who have changed their MO drastically by scurrying off to the Sudan.  When the two meet eye-to-eye through rifle scopes while observing the savage murder of a shopkeeper in the middle of the street (Observe. Report. Do NOT engage.), the question is, “Shoot, or don’t shoot?” Neither shoots, it is ‘observe only,’ you know. Roth flees. McCloud chases. His brief is to know everyone in the area, to find The Scientist, and to find out why a previously unknown Warlord is moving in on this seemingly worthless neighborhood in an even more worthless city. And he is determined to know who the other sniper is, what ‘he’ is doing there, and who he works for. Only, the ‘he’ is a she. And this chapter is the one that nearly had me putting the book down and walking away.

This is a serious subject, and from the intro (EbolaFeverZone) I expected a serious book. What I got was the two of them running through the streets, him overtaking and overwhelming her as if she has no CIA self-defense or evasion training whatsoever, and the two of them immediately rutting like wild dogs without knowing, 1) Who each other are, 2) Who the other person works for, 3) Each others names, or 4) Hey, do you, like, have any diseases I need to know about? You know, since we are in the armpit of the universe and STDs, as well as, oh, I don’t know, Lassa, Ebola and other little nasties are commonplace . . .

GAARG!!! (Of course, I should have known from the cover, right? I was just hoping….oh, and she is a blonde, not a brunette as it shows on the cover. Sigh.) Pages of rutting, then the “Big Strong Alpha Male” rescuing the “Weak Little Woman” (who does things so stupid I simply could not, under any circumstances, believe it – I mean, you are an observer, woman! Observe, don’t go rushing in to fight a couple of religious policemen who are beating a young girl, you idjit. That shit happens. It sucks, but it isn’t your job.) Followed by more pages of rutting and the supposedly CIA trained and experienced CIA observer whining and mewling in her head ad nauseum with the whole “I hate him but I want to screw him again and, oh, woe is me, does he like me or doesn’t he like me and I want to marry him and have his babies, but I hate him for treating me like an ignorant child (even though she acts like an ignorant child) who needs his big strong protection, but oh, lets screw again”  crap pissed me the hell off. I mean, the author is a decorated pilot, for Pete’s sake! I really would like to not think that she is a whiny, needy wreck like her so-called heroine.

Hence, my less-than-stellar review of a book suffering from schizophrenia and a serious identity crisis. Romantic thrillers I understand, and actively look for in my reading. They are, basically, romances that at least have a good story line to back up the nookie. But I expected much more from this book. I wanted what it was advertised as – a Thriller. What I got was a serious, thoughtful idea weighed down by cliché, with a female lead I wanted to shake some sense into. Come on – you are a CIA agent poached from the CDC – I would expect you to have a modicum of common sense! I suppose I am offended, mainly, because I expected so much, and she delivered so little.

Anyway. I found the book on eBookDiscovery.com. I got it for free in exchange for a realistic review. I am only taking on books right now that really grab my attention as I am so busy, but this one showed such promise, I couldn’t refuse. As much as I gripe, I do recommend reading it. It is Very. Scary. I just wish the author had laid off catering to the romance-only crowd and been serious about her characters. It would have been a much better book and would draw the attention of a much wider audience without being crippled by the heavy concentration on the cliché romance rather than the story.

A Read It Forward Giveaway – Ted Koppel’s “Lights Out”

Non-Fiction Giveaway: Lights Out by Ted Koppel

In this tour de force of investigative reporting, Ted Koppel reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is shockingly unprepared.

Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before.

It isn’t just a scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of the nation’s three electric power grids could cripple much of our infrastructure—and in the age of cyber warfare, a laptop has become the only necessary weapon.

With urgency and authority, one of our most renowned journalists examines a threat unique to our time and evaluates potential ways to prepare for a catastrophe that is all but inevitable.

Read It Forward
Click to visit Read It Forward

The Next Target by Marcel Trigueiro – Now on Netgalley!

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Click for your Netgalley Copy!!

Rio de Janerio, Brazil. Home of some of the most beautiful views:

... most incredible beach cities in the world -> Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 The most beautiful women . . . grown up women, and children as well . . .

Beautiful Brazilian men, of course… 😉

But not everything about Rio is beautiful . . .

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is no stranger to terrorist activities. For every beautiful neighborhood in Rio, there are the horrors of the Slums . . . the constant strain on the BOPE, the Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais.  Poverty, gangs, terrorism and death is a way of life for many.

alemão favela of rio de janeiro – http://www.dissentmagazine.org
child scavenges for garbage at the Rio Hato landfill in Rio Hato – http://www.washingtonpost.com
Bope Elite Squad Caveirao bope-elite-squad.blogspot.com
wellingtonflagg.blogspot.com

 

Rio de Janeiro’s BOPE Elite Squad http://www.rio-de-janeiro-travel-information.com
Rio de Janeiro’s BOPE Elite Squad http://www.rio-de-janeiro-travel-information.com

 

Rio Riots – pinterest.com
sábado, 25 de septiembre de 2010 fuerzasespecialeselviskenpo.blogspot.com

 

REVIEW:

Gangs. Terrorists. Murder and death and poverty are no strangers to the streets of Rio. But now, terrorism takes an electronic twist. And the terror is all the more frightening for being unseen.

It starts simply enough. The incident is not even that unusual. A group of friends, out for the evening, stop at a red light. Beside them, a motorcycle pulls up – and out comes the gun. Within moments, the driver is dead, the motorcycle gone. Certainly not unusual in a city where gunmen on motorcycles robbing motorists is pretty much a daily happening.

But this shooting is a great deal different than the usual. And what happens next cripples a whole city – and soon, the terror spreads. For there is method to this particular madness. And as cyber crime becomes something more, as the death toll rises, Matheus Erming and his team of computer forensic specialists must find the perpetrators who are using a computer virus as the base for an attack on not only Rio, but the world.

Marcel has penned a tightly scripted story of terrorism in the cyber age, of murder and mayhem and death wrapped within a story of cyber crime written for today’s world.

The reviews on Amazon aren’t that good right now, only because it wasn’t previously edited and the Romantic language of Brazilian Portuguese didn’t translate well to the more Germanic English. Marcel and I took three months to edit and rewrite in order to turn out a better, more readable book. If you have a copy that doesn’t show ‘fourth edition’ be sure to download the newest edition!

 STORY SUMMARY:

When fear is used as a weapon, the panic paralyses the target like a spider web which immobilizes the preys in the last seconds of their existences. Thenceforth, eliminating a life becomes something elementary.

Rio de Janeiro had already experienced the climate of terror at the end of 2010, with cars and buses being constantly torched overnight. Now, a similar climate settles in the city, but this time the targets have names and surnames. Hundreds of thousands of people are progressively threatened by terrorists who seem to know all the details of their lives. Some of them are cowardly murdered, in a demonstration that anyone can die.

Matheus Erming is the Computer Forensics specialist responsible for examining the computers used by the victims and for finding out how details of their daily routines, kinship and friendship relations were taken by the perpetrators of the attacks. The investigations are the starting point of a persecution not only cybernetic, which touches the lower levels of the organized crime and chases for the roots of chaos in the city. During this race, the security of Matheus’ family is also put at risk. When this happens, he knows he has only one choice: to go further, at any cost.

Marcel TrigueiroABOUT THE AUTHOR

Almost five years ago, Marcel Trigueiro started writing a novel. At first, all he knew was that the protagonist would be a Computer Forensics specialist, since a regular programmer or software engineer would be too boring for the plots he could figure. It would be better someone authorized to hold a gun.
Given his Computer Science background, he managed to build a plot based on solid Information Security principles, without forgetting to take advantage of Rio de Janeiro’s geography.

The Next Target is his first book.

Quirks: Deception in Romance

Deception. It is all around us, choking the life out of us, isn’t it? I got this post from Books, Life, & Wine: On The Run From The Amazon Empire today, and just as I did, my phone rang.
Some guy, probably Filipino, called and tried to convince me that he was from Microsoft Support and that he wanted to dial into my computer to “fix a virus” – HAH! AS IF!! When I told him I had just pulled up Microsoft Chat Support to verify him, he hung up – FAST~! Guy at support said that they were getting a lot of complaints about that, but are they sending out warning emails??

NOOOOOOOOOOO ….. asshats! I suppose Microsoft is more interested in protecting their own bulging backside than protecting their customers. Like everyone I know, I do all my banking and bill paying online. How disastrous would it be to have these bastards just swoop in and steal all your money, your logons, your retirement accounts??? I don’t have that much money, as anyone who follows me knows – my cancer wiped me out, literally. But for those of you who do have retirement accounts, etc.?

The new freedom of expression brought by the Internet goes far beyond politics. People relate to each other in new ways, posing questions about how we should respond to people when all that we know about them is what we have learned through a medium that permits all kinds of anonymity and deception.”- Peter Singer

Why doesn’t this fall under Terrorism Laws? Who is to say that the funds they steal from innocent people doesn’t GO to fund terrorism?

books, life, & wine

We all have our personal quirks – things that just light our fire or work our nerves like nails on chalkboard…

Hey, we’re all human.

I try to be as honest as I can (with myself and those very few people who read my reviews) about how I feel about the books I read. I really try to take as much time as I can to discover what it is I like or dislike about any particular book. Being honest with myself requires me to own up to some of my personal quirks.

So today I want to talk about my issue(s) with deception.

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My Audiobook Monthly Review of Linda Lovely’s No Wake Zone

no wake zone
The second in this series. Click the cover to go to Linda Lovely’s goodreads site! The first book is now on my reading list – I am sure it will be worth an early read!

My review of No Wake Zone by Linda Lovely was published in Audiobook Monthly Magazine! Like Dream Student by J.J. DiBenedetto my review was featured in Volume 2 of this wonderful new magazine.

Click the book cover to read Audiobook Monthly. You won’t be disappointed! And here is my review of No Wake Zone:

In the nearer term, I think various developments in biotechnology and synthetic biology are quite disconcerting. We are gaining the ability to create designer pathogens, and there are these blueprints of various disease organisms that are in the public domain – you can download the gene sequence for smallpox or the 1918 flu virus from the Internet. -Nick Bostrom

Jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire. – Solomon Ibn Gabirol

Marley is more than ready for a vacation. After her adventures in Dear Killer, the first in the Marley Clark mystery series, going home to visit her 79-year-old feisty aunt May and her much-loved cousin Ross in small-town Iowa seems just the thing to relax. Boy, has Marley got it wrong.

Volunteering at the last-minute to waitress for Cousin Ross on his double-decker excursion boat, “The Queen”, Marley is surprised to find that the wedding reception for local billionaire Jake Olsen is to celebrate his marriage to her best friend from college, Darlene Sherbert. But the surprises don’t stop there as Marley witnesses Jake flying over the stern of the Queen and into the icy Okoboji lake waters. Diving to the rescue Marley, a 52-year-old retired Army colonel, finds herself not thanked for her attempted rescue, but instead relegated to leading the suspect list. What’s a retired Army intelligence officer to do, but investigate?

Convoluted, vicious family battles over the will lead police on a wild chase, as family members drop dead one after the other. Things get worse when one of Marley’s old enemies, Quentin Hamilton, arrives on the scene. Tasked with protecting not only Jake, but also his biotech empire, losing his client is sure to drive Hamilton wild. And who better to subject to his ire than Marley, whose recommendation he believes cost Hamilton an important military contract?

While furiously jealous heirs brawling over a billion dollar inheritance seems the most logical reason for bodies falling left, right, and sideways, all is not as it seems. For the situation is much direr than first assumed. Jake’s firm conducts biological materials research for the military – and missing materials are killing the heirs.

Our conversation veered to the topic of scientific advances and their potential for good or evil.

With help from her cousin Ross, her former Pentagon boss, General Irvine, and FBI agent Sherry Weaver, Marley must help find the murderer before more die, and before the biologicals originally meant to save lives instead slaughter millions. At the same time Marley must protect her aunt, while also enjoying a blooming relationship with local attorney Duncan James.

dearkiller
Click to purchase Dear Killer, the first Marley Clark Mystery. You don’t have to buy them in order, but why not read them that way?

What happens, and why, makes for an edge-of-your seat thrill ride which will keep you guessing. Linda Lovely balances suspense and thrills with a strong theme of family, both the good aspects and the bad. Marley is one of my new favorite heroines. Sure, she is a retiree, but she is still a vivacious and active woman, with a healthy sex drive to boot. Marley, all of us “Boomer Ladies” salute you!

I received No Wake Zone from the author via Audiobook Monthly in return for my honest review. As you can tell, I enjoyed the book immensely. I have spent hundreds of hours enjoying audio books, from literary classics like Frankenstein and Little Women to modern stories of the quirky, the romantic, the terrifying and everything in between. What is not to like? I can listen to my books while doing other things such as quilting or knitting, or even working in my flower beds. Or I can simply curl up in a chair with a quilt and a cup of tea, close my eyes, and enter a new and wonderful world.

The pleasure of an exceptional narrator can add further levels of enjoyment, actually making me part of the story. Sadly, the narrator for No Wake Zone falls into the “not as pleasurable” zone for this reader, however this is solely a case of personal preference.

Overall, I truly enjoyed Linda Lovely’s No Wake Zone and have purchased Dear Killer, the first in the Marley Clark series. However, I purchased the electronic version rather than the Audible edition to increase my reading pleasure. I will also be watching closely for Ms. Lovely’s next Marley Clark adventure, With Neighbors Like These.

I received No Wake Zone from Susan Keefe, CEO of Audiobook Monthly in return for a realistic review for her magazine. All thoughts are my own.

lovely
Check out the Linda’s commentary on Audiobookmonthly.com

A native of Iowa, Linda has called the South home for more than thirty years. She lives with her husband beside a peaceful South Carolina lake, where she regularly perturbs the geese and one honking big turtle by jumping off her dock for a swim or pedaling (yes, pedaling not paddling) her kayak.

Linda is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the South Carolina Writers Workshop. She feels quite lucky to have found both close friends and exceptional critique partners—snarky, funny, talented and generous—through these writer organizations.

Review: Plague by Buzz Bernard

plague
The idea was good.
The outcome, not so much.
Click for Goodreads reviews.

“We produce about 100 metric tons per year of weaponized variola virus. Smallpox.” Uri Sherbokov – designated escort, minder, keeper – Plague

“I studied at Emory University in America.” – Alnour Barashi – Terrorist – Plague

“We had begun working on the biological warfare issue in 1993, after the World Trade Center bombing made it clear that terrorism could strike at home, and a defector from Russia had told us that his country had huge stocks of anthrax, smallpox, Ebola, and other pathogens, and had continued to produce them even after the demise of the Soviet Union.”– Bill Clinton

Plague
[pleyg] noun
1. an epidemic disease that causes high mortality; pestilence.
2. an infectious, epidemic disease caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis,  characterized by fever, chills, and prostration, transmitted to humans from rats by means of the bites of fleas. Compare bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, septicemic plague.
3. any widespread affliction, calamity, or evil, especially one regarded as a direct punishment by God: a plague of war and desolation. -Websters Merriam Dictionary 2013

I am very much of two minds about this book, and for two very different reasons. I put a great deal of thought into my review after reading, and still am torn.

To get this out of the way, I am not fond of the writing style. The exposition is thin, the characters are more ‘caricatures’ and it could stand a good editor who can help the writer more fully realize his plotting and characterizations.

With that out of the way, let’s talk terrorism, level-4 containment, and the ease of foreign terrorists gaining use of facilities. We know other countries are creating biological weapons, as are we. “An offensive biological program was begun in 1942 under the direction of a civilian agency, the War Reserve Service (WRS). The Army Chemical Warfare Service was given responsibility and oversight for the effort. The mounting threat of the German buzz bombs that were raining on England from launching sites on the Continent during 1943 spurred the urgency of BW (biological warfare) defense because it was thought that these high-explosive rockets might easily be converted into efficient weapons for massive BW attacks.”(Weapons of Mass Destruction: http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/systems/bw.htm)

Things haven’t slowed down since 1942, and in some countries, especially Middle Eastern and the former Soviet states, it has increase dramatically. Given the state of world terrorism, it is not if, but when we will have to face yet another bioterror attack, such as the anthrax attacks of 2001. How it happens, and what the outcome is up in the air, but it will happen, and it will be horrific.

Bernard’s “Plague” addresses this issue, given a situation where the terrorist is an employee of a level-4 laboratory. The scenario is plausible, though some don’t seem to agree with me. Employees have the run of their labs, and can come and go at need, making it simple for them to hide what they are doing. As another reviewer said (paraphrased) “just like at Wendy’s.” There are thousands of foreigners working at highly secure facilities all around the United States, making it easy for a foreign terrorist to gain access if their cover is deep enough. Besides, we have own own, “home grown” terrorists as well who are just as dangerous, though usually on a par with high school educations rather than high-level virologists. I had no problem believing that part of the story. I could even see a foreign government being involved in the ownership of one of these facilities. Apparently, American corporations are more about the money than they are the safety of the people. But be that neither here nor there.

The writing simply wasn’t believable. Like many, I am a huge fan of the nonfiction work “The Hot Zone” and others in the vein. I adore heavily scientific works based around this theme, whether they be fiction or non-fiction. However, this one didn’t reach the level of excellence I had hoped for. If Bernard had spent more time on exposition, I might possibly have found the work more interesting. However, the characters just didn’t feel realistic. They were stilted and in at least one case, cartoonish.

While the overall idea was good, in the end, the book was simply a disappointment for me.

The Eagle and the Arrow is Published!

A. J. O’Connell’s The Eagle and the Arrow is published! You can read my review here on the blog, or read my review on Amazon or GoodReads. it is well worth the read – check it out!

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Review: Seven Unholy Days – Jerry Hatchett

“American society has grown so dependent on computer and other electrical systems that we have created our own Achilles’ heel of vulnerability, ironically much greater than those of other, less developed nations. When deprived of power, we are in many ways helpless, as the New York City blackout made clear. In that case, power was restored quickly because adjacent areas could provide help. But a large-scale burnout . . . would create a much more difficult situation.”*

Jon Kyl- Unready For This Attack – The Washington Post April 16, 2005

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning – Rich Cook

Will the future bring your wisdom to me?
Or will darkness rule the kingdom for all eternity? Nostradamus

A TEN Star Review for intelligence and terrifying reality

Click for the Jerry Hatchett Website.
Click for the Jerry Hatchett Website.

Seven Unholy Days scared the breath out of me. Not because of the amazing writing, which it was, but due to the absolutely clear-sighted horrifying truth of the tale.

In Jerry’s last thriller, Pawnbroker, he used his extensive knowledge of computer forensics to create a scenario which lent a stark reality to his work. Now, in Seven Unholy Days, he goes further still, using his technical and computing expertise to create a novel of power and believability that will keep you awake at night.
From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step” Denis Diderot 1713-1784

In Jerry’s newest thriller, he posits a scenario that is only too realistic. The complete collapse of the American power grid at the hands of a powerful, wealthy religious fanatic. The whole country goes dark. The terrorist’s demand? A “Decree of Darkness.” America is to remain in the dark, no electrical power allowed. Not wishing to bow to the demands of a terrorist, the President allows the lead character of the book, Matt Decker, the computer specialist who designed and installed the new control systems for the American power grid, to turn the power back on. What happens is horrifying and real enough to chill my blood.

The death of an individual is a tragedy. The death of a million a statistic. Joseph Stalin
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The setting of the book, Iuka, Mississipi, where the “Great Central Electric” power transfer station is located is right in the author’s comfort zone and his description of the area and the people draw you into the story. You can almost feel the heat of a Mississippi day and feel the humidity. As in “Pawnbroker” the characters are fully realized and well-rounded, lending them a believability that makes you like them, or hate them in a realistic manner.

What I found most scary about the book, other than what actually happened, is how it happened. How greed, fanaticism and political self-serving can allow an incident of completely horrifying consequence to occur. While some religious fanatics are committing abominable acts with no remorse what-so-ever in the name of “God” others are committing these acts, and worse, simply for money. While the acts of these supposed humans are gut-wrenching, they also hold that absolute ring of veracity that is without question one of the things that will cut the reader soul deep.

There are, of course, secondary stories that run throughout the book. In Pawnbroker, Jerry wove those secondary stories in a way that kept you interested and involved. Here, he goes deeper, weaving those stories in heartbreaking and chilling ways that make you think not only of his main theme, but of wider themes of fanaticism, greed, child abuse and human brutality which both open the mind and darken the soul. In the words of Herbert Ward, “Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.” A rather odd quote for the ideas I have been discussing in this review, but it will make sense when you read the book. And you really, really MUST read this book. It is a thriller and fiction, sure.

However, it is more than that. It is, in its way, a treatise on the power of fanaticism, the fragility of the world financial markets, and the vulnerability of the human race to its dependency on technology, as well as the lengths humans will go to find meaning in their lives through the abuse of religious ideology. It is one of those rare thrillers that has seated itself deeply into my psyche and will come back to haunt me in the future.

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* The John Kyl quote refers specifically to the effect of a major EMP pulse over the United States, but it is appropriate to this review.
This book was provided to me by the author, however, that fact has no impact upon any review I may write, now or in the future.

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