Some initial disclaimers going in. This book has some minor formatting flaws (paragraphs that indent a little too far in), but otherwise the copy-editing looks fairly clean with just the occasional typo. Note also that I was reading in my cloud reader on my laptop, so it’s possible these glitches do not present in other formats. They were not enough of a distraction in any case to put me off reading the book, and I’m glad of that, because it turned out to be a fun and absorbing tale.
If you’re a fan of medical thrillers in the Robin Cook vein, or scientific thrillers of any kind, involving biotech, this is for you. Reading it, it felt like a cross between Outbreak by Robin Cook, and possibly The China Syndrome, or Erin Brokovich. Instead of a lawyer trying to figure out what’s going on, and to sort out truth from the lies and disinformation wars waged by the guilty parties, we have just an average joe looking into things, which dials up the thriller aspect of the story as the odds are just that much more against him. Factor in that he’s also among the intended victims of the next planned, deliberate biohazard spill, and we have a definite ticking clock, edgy thriller that rockets forward from page one. Kudos to the writer, by the way, for cramming this much story in so few words; this book borders on a novella.
One thing about the author’s writing style reminded me of my own, the dialogue driven plot is very easy to see play out as a film in your mind’s eye. Most of what we learn about the characters, and our ability to bond with them comes through dialogue and their character dynamics and interaction. Again, very filmic, but sometimes challenging to pull off in book form while making the story every bit as engaging without letting the reader further inside the character’s heads. Still, the author pulls it off. Again, kudos. The fact that her approach to storytelling is so similar to my own, makes us something of kindred spirits, to say nothing of the subject matter, so you might want to file this observation under viewer bias; perhaps it deserves another disclaimer.
There is a wonderful sense of claustrophobia pervading the tale, as you feel trapped right along with the residents of this small community, surrounded by the military, who you get the sense from early on has no intention of ever letting anyone out alive. And any chance the citizenry cum human guinea pigs have comes down to outsmarting an opponent that is trained for this, is far better informed than you are, and has you outfoxed and outmaneuvered every which way from Sunday. Great knuckle biting stuff that it’s just impossible to get any distance on. This formula is so effective I think it has been used from time immemorial; I recall The Thing From Another World by Howard Hawks, a sci-fi film, that gives us cabin fever by locking up a bunch of outclassed military guys with an alien from another world determined to use them for food stock. Slightly different genre, exactly the same sweaty palm sensation and dread of knowing any hope from the get go is the hope of the hopeless.
Highly recommended for fans of conspiracy thrillers as well. Especially those involving some branch of our government.